Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 349–364 | Cite as

Peer Victimization, Aggression, and Their Co-Occurrence in Middle School: Pathways to Adjustment Problems

Article

An ethnically diverse sample of 6th-grade students completed peer nomination procedures that were used to create subgroups of students with reputations as victims, aggressors, aggressive victims, and socially adjusted (neither aggressive nor victimized). Self-report data on psychological adjustment, attributions for peer harassment, and perceived school climate were gathered. In addition, homeroom teachers rated participating students on academic engagement and students’ grades were collected from school records. Victims reported the most negative self-views, aggressors enjoyed the most positive self-views, and aggressive victims fell between these two groups, although their psychological profile more closely resembled that of victims. However, all three subgroups encountered more school adjustment problems when compared to their socially adjusted classmates. Different pathways to school adjustment problems for aggressors and victims were examined. For victims, characterological self-blame for victimization and psychological maladjustment were the key mediators, whereas for aggressors, the significant pathway was mainly through perceived unfairness of school rules. Analyses by ethnicity revealed that African American boys were most likely to be perceived as aggressive and as aggressive victims and they were doing most poorly in school. Implications for intervention with subgroups of problem behavior youth and the particular vulnerabilities of African American adolescents were discussed.

KEY WORDS:

aggresive victim academic achievement victim self-blame 

REFERENCES

  1. Anderson, C., Miller, R., Riger, A., Dill, J., & Sedikides, C. (1994). Behavioral and characterological attributional styles as predictors of depression and loneliness: Review, refinement, and test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 549–558.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arbuckle, J., & Wothke, W. (1999). Amos 4.0 Users Guide. Chicago: SmallWaters.Google Scholar
  3. Asher, S., & Wheeler, V. (1985). Children's loneliness: A comparison of neglected and rejected peer status. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 500–505.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Austin, S., & Joseph, S. (1996). Assessment of bully/victim problems in 8 to 11 year-olds. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 66, 447–456.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R., Smart, L., & Boden, J. (1996). Relations of threatened egotism to violence and aggression: The dark side of high self-esteem. Psychological Review, 103, 5–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R., Twenge, J., & Nuss, C. (2002). Effects of socials exclusion on cognitive processes: Anticipated aloneness reduces intelligent thought. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 817–827.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bellmore, A., Witkow, M., Graham, S., & Juvonen, J. (2004). Beyond the individual: The impact of ethnic diversity and behavioral norms on victims' adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 40, 1159–1172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bentler, P. (1990). Comparative fit indexes in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boxer, D. (1997). From bonding to biting: Conversational joking and identity display. Journal of Pragmatics, 27, 275–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brand, S., Felner, R., Shim, M., Seitsinger, A., & Dumas, T. (2003). Middle school improvement and reform: Development and validation of a school-level assessment of climate, cultural pluralism, and school safety. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 570–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cairns, R., & Magnusson, D. (1996). Developmental science: Toward a united framework. In R. Cairns, G. Elder, & E. Costello (Eds.), Developmental science (pp. 7–30). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Coie, J., & Dodge, K. (1998). Aggression and antisocial behavior. In N. Eisenberg (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 3, 5th ed., pp. 779–862). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  13. Cole, D., Peeke, L., Dolezal, S., Murray, N., & Canzoniero, A. (1999). A longitudinal study of negative affect and self-perceived competence in young adolescents. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,77, 851–862.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Craig, W. (1998). The relationship among bullying, victimization, depression, anxiety, and aggression in elementary school children. Personality and Individual Differences, 24, 123–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crick, N., & Grotpeter, J. (1996). Children's treatment by peers: Victims of relational and overt aggression. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 367–380.Google Scholar
  16. Devine, P. (1989). Stereotypes and prejudice: Their automatic and controlled components. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eccles, J., & Midgley, C. (1989). Stage/environment fit: Developmentally appropriate classrooms for early adolescents. In R. Ames & C. Ames (Eds.), Research on motivation in education (Vol. 3, pp. 139–181). New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  18. Forsterling, F. (1990). Attributional therapies. In S. Graham & V. Folkes (Eds.), Attribution theory: Applications to achievement, mental health, and interpersonal conflict. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  19. Gottfredson, G. (1984). Effective school battery. Marriottsville, MD: Gottfredson Association.Google Scholar
  20. Graham, S., & Juvonen, J. (1998). Self-blame and peer victimization in middle school: An attributional analysis. Developmental Psychology, 34, 587–599.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Graham, S., & Juvonen, J. (2002). Ethnicity, peer harassment, and adjustment in middle school: An exploratory study. Journal of Early Adolescence, 22, 173–199.Google Scholar
  22. Graham, S., & Lowery, B. (2004). Priming unconscious racial stereotypes about juvenile offenders. Law and Human Behavior, 28, 483–504.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Graham, S., Taylor, A., & Dolland, C. (2003). A motivation intervention for at-risk youth. In F. Salili & R. Hoosain (Eds.), Teaching, learning, and motivation in a multicultural context (pp. 91–115). Greenwich, CT.: Information Age .Google Scholar
  24. Harter, S. (1985). The self-perception profile for children: Revision of the perceived competence scale for children, manual. Denver, CO: University of Denver.Google Scholar
  25. Haynie, D. L., Nansel, T., Eitel, P., Crump, A. D., Saylor, K., Yu, K., et al. (2001). Bullies, victims, and bully/victims: Distinct groups of at-risk youth. Journal of Early Adolescence, 21, 29–49.Google Scholar
  26. Hudley, C., & Graham, S. (1993). An attributional intervention to reduce peer-directed aggression among African American boys. Child Development, 64, 124–138.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hymel, S., Bowker, A., & Woody, E. (1993). Aggressive versus withdrawn unpopular children: Variations in peer and self-perceptions in multiple domains. Child Development, 64, 879–896.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Janoff-Bulman, R. (1979). Characterological and behavioral self-blame: Inquires into depression and rape. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1798–1809.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions: Toward a new psychology of trauma. New York: Free .Google Scholar
  30. Juvonen, J., & Graham, S. (2001). Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized. New York: Guilford .Google Scholar
  31. Juvonen, J., Graham, S., & Schuster, M. (2003). Bullying among young adolescents: The strong, the weak, and the troubled. Pediatrics, 112, 1231–1237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Juvonen, J., Nishina, A., & Graham, S. (2000). Peer harassment, psychological adjustment, and school functioning in early adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 349–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kovacs, M. (1992). Children's depression inventory. North Tonawanda, NY: Multi-Health Systems.Google Scholar
  34. Kumpulainen, K., Rasanen, E., Henttonen, I., Almqvist, F., Kresanov, K., Linna, S., et al. (1998). Bullying and psychiatric symptoms among elementary school-age children. Child Abuse and Neglect, 22, 705–717.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kuperminc, G., Leadbeater, B., & Blatt, S. (2000). School social climate and individual differences in vulnerability to psychopathology among middle school students. Journal of School Psychology, 39, 141–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. LaGreca, A., & Lopez, N. (1998). Social anxiety among adolescents: Linkages with peer relations and friendships. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 26, 83–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Laursen, B., Pulkkinen, L., & Adams, R. (2002). The antecedents and correlates of agreeableness in adulthood. Developmental Psychology, 38, 592–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Leary, M., Kowalski, R., Smith, L., & Phillips, S. (2003). Teasing, rejection, and violence: Case studies of the school shootings. Aggressive Behavior, 29, 202–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Loehlin, J. (1992). Latent variable models: An introduction to factor, path, and structural analysis (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  40. Luthar, S. S., & McMahon, T. J. (1996). Peer reputation among inner-city adolescents: Structure and correlates. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 6, 581–603.Google Scholar
  41. Markoe, S. (2003). Why do some students displaying disruptive behavior incur suspensions, while others do not? Perceived school climate as a possible buffer. Unpublished Master's thesis, University of California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  42. Masten, A., Hubbard, J., Gest, S., Tellegen, A., Garmezy, N., & Ramirez, M. (1999). Competence in the context of adversity: Pathways to resilience and maladaptation from childhood to late adolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 143–169.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Moffitt, T. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674–701.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nansel, T. R., Overpeck, M., Pilla, R. S., Ruan, W. J., Simons-Morton, B., & Scheidt, P. (2001). Bullying behaviors among US youth: Prevalence and association with psychosocial adjustment. JAMA, 2094-2100.Google Scholar
  45. Nishina, A., & Juvonen, J. (2005). Daily reports of negative affect and peer harassment in middle school. Child Development, 76, 435–450.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Olweus, D. (1978). Aggression in the schools: Bullies and whipping boys. Washington, DC: Hemisphere .Google Scholar
  47. Perry, D. G., Kusel, S. J., & Perry, L. C. (1988). Victims of peer aggression. Developmental Psychology, 24, 807–814.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rigby, K., & Slee, P. T. (1992). Dimensions of interpersonal relation among Australian children and implications for psychological well-being. Journal of Social Psychology, 133, 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schneider, A. (1990). Deterrence and juvenile crime. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  50. Schwartz, D. (2000). Subtypes of victims and aggressors in children's peer groups. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 181–192.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schwartz, D., Proctor, L. J., & Chien, D. H. (2001). The aggressive victim of bullying: Emotional and behavioral dysregulation as a pathway to victimization by peers. In J. Juvonen & S. Graham (Eds.), Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 147–174). New York: Guilford .Google Scholar
  52. Steiger, J. (1990). Structural model evaluation and modification: An interval estimation approach. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 25, 173–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tyler, T. (1990). Why people obey the law. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Unnever, J. (2005). Bullies, aggressive victims, and victims: Are they distinct groups?. Aggressive Behavior, 31, 153–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Verlinden, S., Hersen, M., & Thomas, J. (2000). Risk factors in school shootings. Clinical Psychology Review, 20, 3–56.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Weiner, B. (1986). An attributional theory of motivation and emotion. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  57. Wellborn, J., & Connell, J. (1991). Students’ achievement relevant actions in the classroom: A self-report measure of student motivation in school. Unpublished manuscript. University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.Google Scholar
  58. Wickens, T. (1989). Multiway contingency tables analysis for the social sciences. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  59. Zakriski, A. L., & Coie, J. D. (1996). A comparison of aggressive-rejected and nonaggressive-rejected children's interpretations of self-directed and other-directed rejection. Child Development, 67, 1048–1070.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Graham
    • 1
    • 3
  • Amy D. Bellmore
    • 1
  • Jennifer Mize
    • 2
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.University of Kansas, LawrenceKansasUSA
  3. 3.Department of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations