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Specifying Type and Location of Peer Victimization in a National Sample of Children and Youth


Much of the existing research on the prevalence and consequences of peer victimization focuses on “bullying” at school, often omitting from consideration non-bullying types of peer victimization as well as events that occur outside of school. The purpose of this study was to examine past-year exposure to peer-perpetrated victimization, occurring both within and outside of school contexts, among school-aged children in the United States. The study is based on a representative sample of 2,999 youth ages 6–17 (50% female; 45% non-white) from the 2008 National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV). Findings revealed age, gender, race, and family structure variations in many forms of peer victimization and demonstrated significant independent and cumulative effects of six different types of peer victimization (physical assault, physical intimidation, emotional victimization, sexual victimization, property crime, and internet harassment) on trauma symptoms. Findings also showed that, although victimization at school is substantial, a considerable proportion of peer victimizations occur away from school contexts. The findings highlight the importance of comprehensive measurement of multiple forms of peer victimization that occur both at school and elsewhere, rather than focusing exclusively on traditional measures of school-focused bullying.

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For the purposes of compliance with Section 507 of PL 104–208 (the “Stevens Amendment”), readers are advised that 100% of the funds for this program are derived from federal sources, (this project was supported by Grant No. 2006-JW-BX-0003) awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice). The total amount of federal funding involved is $2,709,912. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.

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Correspondence to Heather A. Turner.


Appendix 1

NATSEV Screeners Used to Define Peer Victimization Types (Only incidents with non-family juvenile perpetrators counted)

Peer Property Victimization


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone use force to take something away from (your child/you) that (he/she was/you were) carrying or wearing?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone steal something from (your child/you) and never give it back? Things like a backpack, money, watch, clothing, bike, stereo, or anything else?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone break or ruin any of (your child’s/your) things on purpose?

Peer Physical Assault


Sometimes people are attacked with sticks, rocks, guns, knives, or other things that would hurt. At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone hit or attack (your child/you) on purpose with an object or weapon? Somewhere like: at home, at school, at a store, in a car, on the street, or anywhere else?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone hit or attack (your child/you) WITHOUT using an object or weapon?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did someone start to attack (your child/you), but for some reason, it didn’t happen? For example, someone helped (your child/you) or (your child/you) got away?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, (has your child/have you) been hit or attacked because of (your child’s/your) skin color, religion, or where (your child’s/your) family comes from? Because of a physical problem (your child has/you have)? Or because someone said (your child was/you were) gay?


Sometimes groups of kids or gangs attack people. At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did a group of kids or a gang hit, jump, or attack (your child/you)?


(If yes to P1, say: “Other than what you just told me about…”) At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did any kid, even a brother or sister, hit (your child/you)? Somewhere like: at home, at school, out playing, in a store, or anywhere else?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did any kids try to hurt (your child’s/your) private parts on purpose by hitting or kicking (your child/you) there?


At any time in your life, did a boyfriend or girlfriend or anyone you went on a date with slap or hit you?

Peer Physical Imtimidation (Formerly Referred to as Physical Bullying)


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did any kids, even a brother or sister, pick on (your child/you) by chasing (your child/you) or grabbing (your child/you) or by making (him/her/you) do something (he/she/you) didn’t want to do?

Peer Emotional Victimization (Formerly Referred to as Emotional Bullying)


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did (your child/you) get really scared or feel really bad because kids were calling (him/her/you) names, saying mean things to (him/her/you), or saying they didn’t want (him/her/you) around?

Peer Sexual Victimization


Now think about other kids, like from school, a boy friend or girl friend, or even a brother or sister. At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did another child or teen make (your child/you) do sexual things?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone TRY to force (your child/you) to have sex, that is sexual intercourse of any kind, even if it didn’t happen?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone make (your child/you) look at their private parts by using force or surprise, or by “flashing” (your child/you)?


At any time in (your child’s/your) life, did anyone hurt (your child’s/your) feelings by saying or writing something sexual about (your child/you) or (your child’s/your) body?

Peer Internet Harassment


Has anyone ever used the Internet to bother or harass (your child/you) or to spread mean words or pictures about (your child/you)?

Appendix 2

See Table 5.

Table 5 Correlation matrix for past year peer victimization types

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Turner, H.A., Finkelhor, D., Hamby, S.L. et al. Specifying Type and Location of Peer Victimization in a National Sample of Children and Youth. J Youth Adolescence 40, 1052–1067 (2011).

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  • Bullying
  • Peer victimization
  • School violence
  • Trauma symptoms