, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 531-544
Date: 25 Jun 2010

Relational Victimization and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence: Moderating Effects of Mother, Father, and Peer Emotional Support

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Abstract

Adolescence heralds a unique period of vulnerability to depressive symptoms. This longitudinal study examined relational victimization in adolescents’ peer relationships as a unique predictor of depressive symptoms among a primarily (85%) Caucasian sample of 540 youth (294 females) concurrently and across a 6-year period. The moderating effects of emotional support received from mothers, fathers, and peers on the association between relational victimization and adolescents’ depressive symptoms were also investigated. Findings revealed that adolescents who were relationally victimized consistently had higher depressive symptoms than their non-victimized peers. However, high levels of emotional support from fathers buffered this relationship over time. Emotional support from mothers and peers also moderated the longitudinal relationship between relational victimization and depressive symptoms, with high levels of support predicting increases in adolescents’ symptoms. Relational victimization presents a clear risk for depressive symptoms in adolescence, and emotional support may serve either a protective or vulnerability-enhancing role depending on the source of support.