Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 309–323 | Cite as

Peer Victimization in Childhood and Internalizing Problems in Adolescence: A Prospective Longitudinal Study

  • Karolina Zwierzynska
  • Dieter WolkeEmail author
  • Tanya S. Lereya


Traumatic childhood experiences have been found to predict later internalizing problems. This prospective longitudinal study investigated whether repeated and intentional harm doing by peers (peer victimization) in childhood predicts internalizing symptoms in early adolescence. 3,692 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), as well as their mothers and teachers, reported on bullying in childhood (7–10 years) and internalizing problems in early adolescence (11–14 years). Controlling for prior psychopathology, family adversity, gender and IQ, being a victim of bullying was associated with higher overall scores, as well as increased odds of scoring in the severe range (>90th percentile) for emotional and depression symptoms. Victims were also more likely to show persistent depression symptoms over a 2-year period. These associations were found independent of whether mothers, teachers or the children reported on bullying. It is concluded that peer victimization in childhood is a precursor of both short-lived and persistent internalizing symptoms, underlining the importance of environmental factors such as peer relationships in the etiology of internalizing problems.


Bullying Depression Non-clinical Internalizing problems ALSPAC 



We are extremely grateful to all the families who took part in this study, the midwives for their help in recruiting them, and the whole ALSPAC team, which includes interviewers, computer and laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers, managers, receptionists and nurses. The UK Medical Research Council (Grant ref: 74882) the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref: 076467) and the University of Bristol, provide core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors and Dieter Wolke will serve as guarantor for the contents of this paper. KZ was funded by a Postgraduate Research Scholarship, the analysis is supported by grant ES/K003593 of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karolina Zwierzynska
    • 1
  • Dieter Wolke
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Tanya S. Lereya
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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