Peer Victimization in Middle Childhood Impedes Adaptive Responses to Stress: A Pathway to Depressive Symptoms

Wendy Troop-Gordon, Karen D. Rudolph, Niwako Sugimura, Todd D. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although associations between peer victimization in childhood and later psychopathology are well documented, surprisingly little research directly examines pathways accounting for these enduring effects. The present study addresses this issue by examining whether maladaptive responses to peer aggression (less effortful engagement coping and more involuntary responses) mediate associations between peer victimization and later depressive symptoms. Data were collected on 636 children (338 girls, 298 boys; M = 8.94 years, SD = .37) for three consecutive years beginning in 3rd grade. Findings supported the proposition that peer victimization predicts lower levels of effortful engagement coping and higher levels of involuntary engagement and disengagement responses to stress. Moreover, these responses to stress helped to explain the link between 3rd-grade peer victimization and 5th-grade depressive symptoms. No sex differences in these linkages emerged. These findings build on prior theory and research by providing a more nuanced understanding of how and why peer victimization serves as an early risk factor for depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-445
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2015

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