Early Behavior Problems as a Predictor of Later Peer Group Victimization: Moderators and Mediators in the Pathways of Social Risk
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This study is a prospective investigation of the predictive association between early behavior problems (internalizing, externalizing, hyperactivity–impulsiveness, immaturity–dependency) and later victimization in the peer group. Teacher ratings of the behavioral adjustment of 389 kindergarten and 1st-grade children (approximate age range of 5 to 6 years-old) were obtained, using standardized behavior problem checklists. These ratings predicted peer nomination scores for victimization, obtained 3 years later, even after the prediction associated with concurrent behavior problems was statistically controlled. Further analyses suggested that the relation between early behavior problems and later victimization is mediated by peer rejection and moderated by children's dyadic friendships. Behavior problems appear to play an important role in determining victimization within the peer group, although the relevant pathways are complex and influenced by other aspects of children's social adjustment.
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