Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1125–1137 | Cite as

Predicting Change in Early Adolescent Problem Behavior in the Middle School Years: A Mesosystemic Perspective on Parenting and Peer Experiences

  • Marie-Hélène Véronneau
  • Thomas J. Dishion


The transition into middle school may be a risky period in early adolescence. In particular, friendships, peer status, and parental monitoring during this developmental period can influence the development of problem behavior. This study examined interrelationships among peer and parenting factors that predict changes in problem behavior over the middle school years. A longitudinal sample (580 boys, 698 girls) was assessed in Grades 6 and 8. Peer acceptance, peer rejection, and their interaction predicted increases in problem behavior. Having high-achieving friends predicted less problem behavior. Parental monitoring predicted less problem behavior in general, but also acted as a buffer for students who were most vulnerable to developing problem behavior on the basis of being well liked by some peers, and also disliked by several others. These findings highlight the importance of studying the family–peer mesosystem when considering risk and resilience in early adolescence, and when considering implications for intervention.


Behavior problems Social acceptance Friendship Parenting Protective factors 



The preparation of this manuscript was made possible by a postdoctoral fellowship awarded to Marie-Hélène Véronneau by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and by grants DA 07031 and DA 13773 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health to Thomas J. Dishion. We acknowledge the contribution of The Next Generation staff (Peggy Veltman, Trina McCartney, Barb Berry, Carole Dorham, and Nancy Weisel), Eugene School District 4J, 4J Counselor Anne McRae, and the participating youth and families. We also wish to acknowledge Cheryl Mikkola for her editorial assistance in the preparation of this manuscript, and Gregory Fosco, Kristina Hiatt Racer, and Amber McEachern for their comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Child and Family CenterUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

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