The Interplay of Depression and Hostile Attributions in the Link Between PTSD Symptoms and Peer Victimization in Child Victims of Sexual Abuse


This study sought to test a serial mediation model in which depressive symptoms and hostile attributions mediate the relationship between post-traumatic stress symptoms and peer victimization in a sample of child victims of sexual abuse. Participants included 771 children aged 6 to 12 years old, consulting specialized intervention settings following disclosure of sexual abuse. Children completed questionnaires assessing their levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms, depressive symptoms and experiences of peer victimization in the school context. Vignettes were used to assess hostile attributions for instrumental and relational provocations. Results of the path analysis revealed that post-traumatic stress symptoms were associated with depressive symptoms, which were linked to greater hostile attributions for relational provocations, which were in turn associated to a greater likelihood of reporting peer victimization. Hostile attributions for instrumental provocations were not related to peer victimization.

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The authors would like to thank the practitioners of the different intervention settings as well as all the children and families that participated in this project.


This research was supported by a Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research awarded to the first author.

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Correspondence to Martine Hébert.

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Hébert, M., Tremblay-Perreault, A. & Myre, G. The Interplay of Depression and Hostile Attributions in the Link Between PTSD Symptoms and Peer Victimization in Child Victims of Sexual Abuse. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 52, 291–300 (2021).

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  • Peer victimization
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Attributions
  • PTSD
  • Depression