, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 665-680
Date: 15 May 2007

Do Friends’ Characteristics Moderate the Prospective Links between Peer Victimization and Reactive and Proactive Aggression?

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Abstract

This study examined (a) the predictive link between peer victimization and children’s reactive and proactive aggression, and (b) the potential moderating effect of reciprocal friends’ reactive and proactive aggression in this context. The study also examined whether these potential moderating effects of friends’ characteristics were stronger with respect to more recent friends compared to previous friends. Based on a convenience sample of 658 twin children (326 boys and 332 girls) assessed in kindergarten and first grade, the results showed that peer victimization uniquely predicted an increase in children’s teacher-rated reactive aggression, but not teacher-rated proactive aggression. The relation of peer victimization to increased reactive aggression was, however, moderated by recent ¯ not previous ¯ reciprocal friends’ similarly aggressive characteristics. These findings, however, tended to be mostly true for boys, but not for girls. The findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical and practical implications for victimized children’s risk of displaying reactive and proactive aggressive behaviors.

This research was made possible by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Fonds Concerté pour l’Aide à la Recherche, the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec.