Peer Victimization, Mood Symptoms, and Alcohol Use: Examining Effects among Diverse High School Youth

  • Alia T. Rowe
  • Tamika C. B. ZapolskiEmail author
  • Devon J. Hensel
  • Sycarah Fisher
  • Jessica Barnes-Najor
Empirical Research


Peer victimization is associated with alcohol use among adolescents. However, few studies have examined the mediating role of depression and anxiety, or differences by race. The current study examined the prospective relationship of peer victimization, depressive and anxiety symptoms, and alcohol use across two timeframes: 9th to 11th grade and 10th to 12th grade among African American and White youth. Two thousand two hundred and two high school youth (57.6% female) who identified as either African American (n = 342, 15.2%) or White (n = 1860, 82.6%) provided data on study variables. Path analysis among the overall sample indicated that anxiety symptoms was a significant mediator for both timeframes, with depressive symptoms mediating the pathway during the 10th to 12th grade timeframe. The findings were most consistent among White youth, with no significant indirect effects observed for African American youth. Thus, addressing depressive and anxiety symptoms may be effective targets to decrease alcohol use risk as a result of peer victimization among White youth. However, further research is needed to better understand risk models for peer victimization exposure on substance use outcomes among racial/ethnic minority youth.


Peer victimization Depression Anxiety Alcohol use Adolescence Race 


Authors’ contributions

The contribution of each author is as follows: AR and TZ conceived of the study, participated in its design, interpretation of data, and drafting of the manuscript. TZ also collaborated on the statistical analytic plan and coordinated writing components for co-authors; SF participated in the data collection and contributed to drafting of the manuscript and editing; DH participated in the study design, conducted primary statistical analyses, drafting of the manuscript, and editing; JB participated in the design and coordination of the parent study, worked with community partners to develop the measurement plan, conducted data collection and processing, and contributed to editing of the manuscript. All authors have given final approval of the version to be published.


This research was supported by NIH award K01DA043654 to Tamika Zapolski and by NIH award DA05312 to Sycarah Fisher. Writing of the manuscript was supported by NIH/NIDA award P30DA027827 to Tamika Zapolski and R25DA035163 to Tamika Zapolski and Sycarah Fisher.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The dataset analyzed during the current study is not publicly available but is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The authors do not have any interests or activities that might be interpreted as influencing the research submitted, and this study was conducted in accordance with APA ethical standards. This research has not been presented at a conference and is not under consideration for publication with any other journals. Data collected for this study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board/ethnics committee at Michigan State University and the research has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

Informed consent

All participants in the study provided informed assent, with informed consent provided by their legal guardian.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Indiana University Purdue UniversityIndianapolisUSA
  2. 2.Indiana University School of Medicine and Indiana University Purdue UniversityIndianapolisUSA
  3. 3.University of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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