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Coping with peer victimization predicts peer outcomes across the transition to middle school

Abstract

The present study examined strategies for coping with peer victimization as predictors of peer victimization experiences and broader peer relationship outcomes across the transition to middle school, and tested for possible gender differences in these associations. Participants included 123 early adolescents (Mage = 12.03 years at T1; 50% males; 58.5% European Americans, 35% African Americans, 6.5% of other races/ethnicities) who reported on strategies for coping with peer victimization at T1 (summer before the transition to middle school) as well as experiences of peer victimization and loneliness at T1 and T2 (spring of the first year of middle school). Teachers reported on peer victimization and peer competence at T1 and T2. Conflict resolution predicted higher teacher‐reported peer competence. In contrast, revenge‐seeking predicted higher self‐reported peer victimization (among girls but not boys) and loneliness, and support‐seeking predicted higher teacher‐reported peer victimization and lower teacher‐reported peer competence. In addition, cognitive distancing predicted lower teacher‐reported peer victimization and lower self‐reported loneliness among boys but not girls. Results are discussed with reference to the specific context of peer victimization and developmental period of early adolescence.

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