Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 719–730 | Cite as

Friendships with Peers Who are Low or High in Aggression as Moderators of the Link between Peer Victimization and Declines in Academic Functioning

  • David SchwartzEmail author
  • Andrea Hopmeyer Gorman
  • Kenneth A. Dodge
  • Gregory S. Pettit
  • John E. Bates


This paper reports two prospective investigations of the role of friendship in the relation between peer victimization and grade point averages (GPA). Study 1 included 199 children (105 boys, 94 girls; mean age of 9.1 years) and Study 2 included 310 children (151 boys, 159 girls; mean age of 8.5 years). These children were followed for two school years. In both projects, we assessed aggression, victimization, and friendship with a peer nomination inventory, and we obtained children's GPAs from a review of school records. Peer victimization was associated with academic declines only when children had either a high number of friends who were above the classroom mean on aggression or a low number of friends who were below the classroom mean on aggression. These results highlight the importance of aggression levels among friends for the academic adjustment of victimized children.


Peer relationships Academic functioning Friendship Peer victimization 



Data analysis for this manuscript was supported by the University of Southern California’s (USC) fund for Advancing Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Los Angeles Social Development Project (Study 1) was supported by a faculty fellowship from the John and Dora Haynes Foundation and the USC’s Zumberge Fund. The Child Development Project (Study 2) was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants MH 42498, MH 56961, MH 57024, and MH 57095; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant HD 30572; and National Institute on Drug Abuse Grant DA 16903.


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Archer, J., & Coyne, S. M. (2005). An integrated review of indirect, relational, and social aggression. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 9, 212–230.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asher, S. R., Parker, J. G., & Walker, D. L. (1996). Distinguishing friendship from acceptance: Implications for intervention and assessment. In W. M. Bukowski, A. F. Newcomb, & W. W. Hartup (Eds.) The company they keep: Friendship in childhood and adolescence (pp. 366–406). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Berndt, T. J. (1986). Children's comments about their friendships. In M. Perlmutter (Ed.) Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology (Vol. 18). Cognitive perspectives on children's social and behavioral development (pp. 189–212). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Berndt, T. J. (1996). Exploring the effects of friendship quality on social development. In W. M. Bukowski, A. F. Newcomb, & W. W. Hartup (Eds.) The company they keep: Friendship in childhood and adolescence (pp. 346–365). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Berndt, T. J., & Keefe, K. (1995). Friends' influence on adolescents' adjustment to school. Child Development, 66, 1312–1329.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berndt, T. J., & Perry, T. B. (1990). Distinctive features and effects of early adolescent friendships. In R. Montemayor, G. R. Adams, & T. P. Gullotta (Eds.) From childhood to adolescence: A transitional period? (pp. 269–287). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Boivin, M., Hymel, M., & Hodges, E. V. E. (2001). Toward a process view of peer rejection and harassment. In J. Juvonen, & S. Graham (Eds.) Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized (pp. 265–289). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  9. Buhs, E. S., & Ladd, G. W. (2001). Peer rejection as antecedent of young children's school adjustment: An examination of mediating processes. Developmental Psychology, 37, 550–560.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bukowski, W. M., Hoza, B., & Boivin, M. (1994). Measuring friendship quality during pre- and early adolescence: The development and psychometric properties of the Friendship Qualities Scale. Journal of Personal and Social Relationships, 11, 471–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bukowski, W. M., & Hoza, B. (1989). Popularity and friendship: Issues in theory, measurement, and outcome. In T. J. Berndt, & G. W. Ladd (Eds.) Peer relationships in child development (pp. 15–45). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  12. Cole, D. A., Martin, J. M., Powers, B., & Truglio, R. (1996). Modeling causal relations between academic and social competence and depression: A multitrait–multimethod longitudinal study of children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105, 258–270.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Coie, J. D., Dodge, K. A., & Coppotelli, H. (1982). Dimensions and types of social status: A cross-age perspective. Developmental Psychology, 18, 557–570.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social–psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, 710–722.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Criss, M. M., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., Dodge, K. A., & Lapp, A. L. (2002). Family adversity, positive peer relationships, and children's externalizing behavior: A longitudinal perspective on risk and resilience. Child Development, 73, 1220–1237.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dishion, T. J., Andrews, D. W., & Crosby, L. (1995). Antisocial boys and their friends in early adolescence: Relationship characteristics, quality, and interactional processes. Child Development, 66, 139–151.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dishion, T. J., & Dodge, K. A. (2005). Peer contagion in interventions for children and adolescents: Moving towards an understanding of the ecology and dynamics of change. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dishion, T. J., Patterson, G. R., Stoolmiller, M., & Skinner, M. (1991). Family, school, and behavioral antecedents to early adolescent involvement with antisocial peers. Developmental Psychology, 27, 172–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gauze, C., Bukowski, W. M., Aquan-Assee, J., & Sippola, L. K. (1996). Interactions between family environment and friendship and associations with self-perceived well-being during early adolescence. Child Development, 67, 2201–2216.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hartup, W. W. (2005). Peer interaction: What causes what? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 387–394.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hartup, W. W., & Stevens, N. (1997). Friendship and adaptation in the life course. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 355–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Haselager, G. J. T., Hartup, W. W., van Lieshout, C. F. M., & Riksen-Walraven, J. M. A. (1998). Similarities between friends and nonfriends in middle childhood. Child Development, 69, 1198–1208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hodges, E. V. E., Boivin, M., Vitaro, F., & Bukowski, W. M. (1999). The power of friendship: Protection against an escalating cycle of peer victimization. Developmental Psychology, 35, 94–101.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hodges, E. V. E., Malone, M. J., & Perry, D. G. (1997). Individual risk and social risks as interacting determinants of victimization in the peer group. Developmental Psychology, 33, 1032–1039.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hodges, E. V. E., & Perry, D. G. (1999). Personal and interpersonal antecedents and consequences of victimization by peers. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 76, 677–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 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
  27. Kenny, D. A., & Judd, C. M. (1986). Consequences of violating the independence assumption in analysis of variance. Psychological Bulletin, 99, 422–431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kenny, D. A., & Judd, C. M. (1996). A general procedure for the estimation of interdependence. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 138–148.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kochenderfer, B. J., & Ladd, G. W. (1996a). Peer victimization: Cause or consequence of children's school adjustment difficulties? Child Development, 67, 1293–1305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kochenderfer, B. J., & Ladd, G. W. (1996b). Peer victimization: Manifestations and relations to school adjustment in kindergarten. Journal of School Psychology, 34, 267–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ladd, G. W., & Kochenderfer-Ladd, B. (2002). Identifying victims of peer aggression from early to middle childhood: Analysis of cross-informant data for concordance, incidence of victimization, characteristics of identified victims, and estimation of relational adjustment. Psychological Assessment, 14, 74–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lahey, B. B., Waldman, I. D., & McBurnett, K. (1999). The development of antisocial behavior: An integrative model. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 40, 669–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Laird, R. D., Pettit, G. S., Dodge, K. A., & Bates, J. E. (1999). Best friendships, group relationships, and antisocial behavior in early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence, 19, 413–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (2000). The other Los Angles: The working poor in the city of the 21st century. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy.Google Scholar
  35. Masten, A. S., & Curtis, W. J. (2000). Integrating competence and psychopathology: Pathways toward a comprehensive science of adaptation in development. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 529–550.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Masten, A. S., Roisman, G. I., Long, J. D., Burt, K. B., Obradović, J., Riley, J. R., et al. (2005). Developmental cascades: Linking academic achievement, externalizing and internalizing symptoms over 20 years. Developmental Psychology, 41, 733–746.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McClelland, G. H., & Judd, C. M. (1993). Statistical difficulties of detecting interactions and moderator effects. Psychological Bulletin, 114, 376–390.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Newcomb, A. F., & Bagwell, C. L. (1995). Children's friendship relations: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 306–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Newcomb, A. F., & Bagwell, C. L. (1996). The developmental significance of children's friendship relations. In W. M. Bukowski, A. F. Newcomb, & W. W. Hartup (Eds.) The company they keep: Friendship in childhood and adolescence (pp. 289–321). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Parker, J. G., & Asher, S. R. (1987). Peer relations and later personal adjustment: Are low accepted children at risk? Psychological Bulletin, 102, 357–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Parker, J. G., & Asher, S. R. (1993). Friendship and friendship quality in middle childhood: links with peer group acceptance and feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction. Developmental Psychology, 29, 611–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Parker, J. G., Rubin, K. H., Price, J. M., & DeRosier, M. E. (1995). Peer relationships, child development, and adjustment: A developmental psychopathology perspective. In Developmental psychopathology, Vol. 2: Risk, disorder, and adaptation (pp. 96–161). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  43. Patterson, G. R., Forgatch, M. S., Yoerger, K. L., & Stoolmiller, M. (1998). Variables that initiate and maintain an early-onset trajectory for juvenile offending. Development and Psychopathology, 10, 531–547.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., Dodge, K. A., & Meece, D. (1999). The impact of after-school peer contact on early adolescent externalizing problems is moderated by parental monitoring, perceived neighborhood safety, and prior adjustment. Child Development, 70, 768–778.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pettit, G. S., Laird, R. D., Bates, J. E., Dodge, K. A., & Criss, M. M. (2001). Antecedents and behavior-problem outcomes of parental monitoring and psychological control in early adolescence. Child Development, 72, 583–598.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Poulin, F., Dishion, T. J., & Haas, E. (1999). The peer influence paradox: Friendship quality and deviancy training within male adolescent friendships. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 45, 42–61.Google Scholar
  47. Price, J. M. (1996). Friendships of maltreated children and adolescents: Contexts for expressing and modifying relationship history. In W. M. Bukowski, A. F. Newcomb, & W. W. Hartup (Eds.) The company they keep: Friendship in childhood and adolescence (pp. 262–285). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Rutter, M. (1989). Pathways from childhood to adult life. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 30, 23–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schwartz, D. (2000). Subtypes of victims and aggressors in children's peer groups. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 28, 181–192.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Schwartz, D., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1997). The early socialization of aggressive victims of bullying. Child Development, 68, 665–675.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Schwartz, D., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (2000). Friendship as a moderating factor in the pathway between early harsh home environment and later victimization in the peer group. Developmental Psychology, 36, 646–662.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Schwartz, D., & Gorman, A. H. (2003). Community violence exposure and children's academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 163–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Schwartz, D., Gorman, A. H., Nakamoto, J., & Toblin, R. L. (2005). Victimization in the peer group and children's academic functioning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 425–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schwartz, D., McFadyen-Ketchum, S. A., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1998). Peer victimization as a predictor of behavior problems at home and in school. Development & Psychopathology, 10, 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Schwartz, D., McFadyen-Ketchum, S. A., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1999). Early behavior problems as a predictor of later peer group victimization: Moderators and mediators in the pathways of social risk. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 27, 191–201.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  57. Toblin, R. L., Schwartz, D., Gorman, A. H., & Abou-Ezzeddine, T. (2005). Social-cognitive and behavioral attributes of aggressive victims of bullying. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 325–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., & Wanner, B. (2005). Patterns of affiliation with delinquent friends during late childhood and early adolescence: Correlates and consequences. Social Development, 14, 82–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wentzel, K. R. (1991). Relations between social competence and academic achievement in early adolescence. Child Development, 62, 1066–1078.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Schwartz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrea Hopmeyer Gorman
    • 2
  • Kenneth A. Dodge
    • 3
  • Gregory S. Pettit
    • 4
  • John E. Bates
    • 5
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Occidental CollegeLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  5. 5.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations