, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1529-1541
Date: 03 Oct 2012

A Population Study of Victimization, Relationships, and Well-Being in Middle Childhood

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The paper presents a population-based study on the association of victimization and peer and adult relationships with children’s life satisfaction, self-esteem, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. The study extends previous research by examining 2-, 3-, and 4-way higher-order interaction effects (moderation hypotheses) of adults and peer relationships, victimization, and gender on positive and negative aspects of children’s well-being. The study draws from a representative population-level sample of 2,792 4th graders (M age = 9.70 years; 48.2 % girls). Data were obtained via student self-report survey on the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI). Given the nested data (children within classrooms), we employed multi-level regression analyses. Positive relationships with adults and peers were most strongly associated with life satisfaction and self-esteem, whereas victimization was most strongly associated with depressive symptoms and anxiety. No significant 2- or 3-way interactions were identified. The 4-way interaction of gender, adult connectedness, peer connectedness, and victimization was significant for three outcomes; that is, victimization was particularly strongly associated with low life satisfaction, low self-esteem, and high depressive symptoms for girls with low self-reports of peer and adult connectedness. The findings have implications for promoting children’s well-being in school and community contexts, corroborating interventions that foster relationship-building skills and simultaneously reduce victimization.