There was an error in this gadget

December 22, 2011

Being in control isn't always a good thing...


Terranova,A.M., Harris, J., Kavetski, M., & Oates, R. (2011). Responding to peer victimization: A sense of control matters. Child Youth Care Forum, 40, 419-434.

These authors were interested in seeing what factors explained how children respond to peer-victimization. They note that a history of frequent peer-victimization may make children respond more emotionally in similar context e.g. experiencing higher levels of anger, fear and embarrassment. They also suggest that children’s attitudes can help us understand the ways in which they respond, citing evidence that children with positive attitudes toward aggression are more likely to respond aggressively. Finally, drawing on some of my own published work and on transactional coping theory, they suggest that children’s perceptions of control can influence their reactions and the ways in which they respond to peer-victimization.


Here, the goal was to investigate these issues using a longitudinal design. Overall, responses from 311 students were included. The young people involved were aged between 10 and 13 years old and were based in four separate schools in the US. All young people taking part did so on two occasions, and these were 6 months apart. They assessed a few different kinds of coping: peer social support, adult/family social support, internalizing (e.g. feeling sad, bottling feelings up), externalizing (e.g. swearing, hitting things, acting out, fighting back), and avoidance (e.g. staying away from specific areas in school). Participants also reported on their level of peer-victimization, their attitudes toward being aggressive, and their sense of control over bullying behaviors directed toward them. All measures were self-report.


Results indicated that boys were more likely to use externalizing, were more likely to be victimized, and were more likely to hold positive attitudes toward the use of aggression. Girls were more likely than boys were to seek and receive peer support.


When predicting coping strategy use at the end of the study, there were only two important predictors: Attitudes supporting the use of aggression predicted an increase in the use of internalizing coping behaviour as well as a reduced likelihood of asking for help from adults and family members. Higher levels of control were related to more use of externalizing responses over time.


Additionally, for young people who felt that there wasn’t much they could do to stop bullying behaviour (i.e. they had low perceived control) pro-aggression attitudes reduced the chances that they would ask for help. Furthermore, pro-aggression attitudes coupled with a high sense of control made students less likely to avoid situations where they might be bullied. Finally, young people with low levels of peer support were more likely to use externalizing coping, and this was exacerbated when they also had high levels of perceived control.


The authors note some important policy implications of their work. They suggest that  improving young people’s perceptions of control can impact both positively and negatively how they respond to peer-victimization. Because of this, it is important to both increase a sense of control emphasise which behaviours are the best ways to respond. They feel that work (i) reducing attitudes supporting the use of aggression and (ii) building peer support networks can help achieve these goals.

December 12, 2011

Workplace bullying and sleep quality

I'm busy writing an article looking at the relationship between involvement in bullying behaviours and sleep difficulties in adolescence, and while doing this I came across the following free article published in 2011 relating to workplace bullying and sleep quality: http://www.behavioralpsycho.com/PDFenglish/2011/art03.2.19.pdf

November 08, 2011

Free 2010 article on cyberbullying and psychsocial risk

Just came across this article and it is also an interesting one which is free to the public, and you can download it here. The full details are:
Psychosocial Risk Factors Associated With Cyberbullying Among Adolescents A Population-Based Study. (2010) By: Sourander Andre; Klomek Anat Brunstein; Ikonen Maria; et al.
ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY, 67 (7), 720-728


In fact, there are a few more from that same journal: go here and here and just go here and put in 'peer-victimization' as a search term!

October 27, 2011

Free article on bullying

The British Psychological Society is making available the most highly cited articles published in their flagship journals, and one of these is a bullying one by Anthony Pellegrini and Jeffery Long, published in 2002. I'm not sure how long these will be available, but you can download a PDF of the article here

The full reference for the article in question is: 
Pellegrini, A.D. & Long, J.D. (2002). A longitudinal study of bullying, dominance, and victimization during the transition from primary school through secondary school. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 20, 259-280.


Simon

October 18, 2011

When do children feel worst about being aggressive?

Roos, S., Salmivalli, C., & Hodges, E.V.E. (2011). Person X context effects on anticipated moral emotions following aggression. Social Development, 20 (4), 685-702.

These authors were interested in the ‘moral emotions’ that children expect to experience if they are aggressive toward a same-age peer. By ‘moral emotions’ they specifically  focus on feelings of guilt, shame, and pride. They summarise previous work which indicates that there do exist differences between bullies, victims, and outsiders (children uninvolved in bullying). However, the authors note that it is important to look not only at general ‘trait-like’ differences (e.g. whether someone has a stable tendency to feel guilty when they are aggressive toward others) but also toward aspects of the situation which might influence these emotional reactions. By doing this, they hope to open up new avenues of intervention.

Here, context was thought of as either
  • The social context (whether no one else was present, most liked classmates were there, or whether the whole class was looking), or
  • The victim’s reactions (whether a victim responds in a neutral, sad, or angry way).

The authors make specific predictions about how these issues might influence the experience of moral emotion. I found it interesting that they based this on issues of power among children. Drawing on Keltner et al’s (2003) theory, they suggest that high-power children (e.g. bullies) are less sensitive to social context than low-power children (e.g. victims) because low-power children need to be on the lookout for possible threats and dangers more.

The research took place in Turku, Finland, and data analyses were based on 376 children from five schools. Children had a mean age of 11.3 years old. Aggression was assessed by asking children to say who in their classroom was aggressive. To assess the moral emotional reactions, all the children completed a series of vignettes – these were short stories where one child was being aggressive to another. Across the vignettes the emotional response of the victims was varied between neutral, sad, and angry, as was the social context (alone, the aggressors most liked classmates were there, or the whole class was there).

Children who were most often nominated as aggressive were the least likely to report they would feel guilty or ashamed if they were aggressive, but levels of aggression were not related to pride, indifference or anger. Children who said they felt ashamed also said they felt guilty so the authors suggest that it is very likely they feel both at the same time. Girls scored higher on guilt and shame and boys were higher on pride.

  • Effects of witness presence: No effect on whether children reported that they expected to feel guilty, proud or indifferent after being aggressive. However, shame was lower for when ‘most liked peers’ watched than when either the whole class or no one at all was present (and this was most obvious for boys). Also, anger was highest when the whole class was watching and lowest when ‘most liked peers’ watched.
  • Effect of victim reactions: No effect on whether children reported that they expected to feel proud after being aggressive. However, children said they’d feel more guilty if the victim looked sad than if the victim were angry or showed no emotion. They also said they would feel most ashamed if the victim were sad, less so if they were anger, and least ashamed if they showed no emotion. Finally, children said they’d be most likely to feel angry if they victim were also angry rather than sad or unemotional.
  • Power: The aggression levels of the child also had an influence. Children who were high-power (i.e. those were who were most often nominated as aggressive) were less sensitive to contextual cues than those who were low-power.

I enjoyed this paper because it tackled a difficult issue, but also because it is an issue that relates directly to intervention – young people are often told to ignore bullies or to show that they don’t care. But these results suggest that this may mean that aggressors don’t feel as bad about what they have done. That might mean they carry on for longer, not that they stop more quickly. However, the results also suggest that victims who react angrily are not being helped either since this was associated with a more angry reaction from the aggressor. Rather, it was when a victim was sad that the aggressor was most likely to feel moral emotions which might lead them to stop what they’re doing (shame).

Of course, the methods used here were based on vignettes – “If this happened, what do you think you’d feel?”. So it is possible that children may respond very differently when faced with these situations in real life. But the paper still makes an interesting first stab at these interesting questions.

Reference:
Keltner, D., Gruenfeld, D.H., & Anderson, C. (2003). Power, approach, and inhibition. Psychological Review, 110, 265–284.

August 31, 2011

Gossip makes the heart grow fonder: Relational aggression and friendship quality.

Banny, A.M., Heilbron, N., Ames, A., & Prinstein, M.J. (2011). Relational benefits of relational aggression: Adaptive and maladaptive associations with adolescent friendship quality. Developmental Psychology, 47 (4), 1153-1166.

This summary is a little different from previous posts, mainly because it is longer than I usually post. There are two reasons for this: First, there are two studies reported in the article, and second I really enjoyed reading the paper and want to get across why I think it is so interesting! If anything in the summary is confusing or unclear, please be sure to post a comment and I’ll soon respond.

As we have covered in previous posts, relational aggression involves behaviour which isn’t physically based; rather, it is aggression which aims to harm another person’s relationships and/or social standing. These authors note that this has been investigated in terms of its negative outcomes, but that less is known about its benefits. This is an interesting angle to take – after all, it is sensible to assume that using aggression has benefits for children  otherwise there would be little point in using it. If all aggression were maladaptive (only had negative outcomes for the aggressor) we would expect it to dissipate over time.

These authors were investigating relational aggression, friendship quality (both positive and negative). They note that relational aggression has been associated with both positive (intimacy, support) and negative (conflict, criticism, dominance) aspects of friendship in other research (though there were limitations to those studies, which I won't go into here). They suggest that some children may be attracted to dominant and relationally aggressive children because of a ‘halo’ effect i.e. some of the dominant child’s social standing can rub off on them. Intimacy is an issue which may be especially closely associated with relational aggression, reflecting the possible benefits of gossiping. What are these benefits?
  • Well, gossiping about others may increase intimacy in a friendship foster intimacy because sharing (someone else’s) private information suggests that the friend can be trusted with it (“wow, they must really trust me to tell me that”). 
  • If a relationally aggressive child is thought to be ‘putting themselves out there’ i.e. going out on a limb by spreading malicious gossip and opinions, then this may increase feelings of solidarity (“they’re saying what I’m thinking... hey, we really are alike”).
  • Excluding others and spreading gossip may also help young people to feel like they are part of a group and to promote a feeling that there is a close bond among friends.

Relational aggression can, of course, also lead to problems. For example, exclusion of others may become exclusivity in a friendship and may be linked to feelings of envy or jealousy.

These authors designed two very different studies to examine these issues.

Study 1:
This study was designed to look at the longitudinal relations between relational aggression and friendship quality (positive and negative) in stable, reciprocal friendships. This means that the authors were looking to see how relational aggression at one point in time predicted friendship at a second point of time. They were able to take into account friendship quality at the first point in time too. “Stable, reciprocal friendships” were friendships where two young people nominated each other as a best-friend on both occasions when data were collected.

Analyses were based on a total of 62 adolescents (58% female) who were in Grades 6, 7, and 8 at the start of the study (i.e. aged approx 11, 12, and 13). These were a subset of a larger data set of 520 students who all took part at two points in time (time 1 and time 2 were separated by 11 months). The subset were the stable, reciprocal friendships. At both points in time, participants had to nominate who in their class were their closest friends and who was their very best friends. They also nominated who in their class was relationally aggressive, and also who was overtly aggressive (this latter measure was taken because the two types of aggressive tend to go hand in hand so it is important to statistically ‘remove’ the effects of overt aggression when conducting the analysis). Friendship quality was assessed using self-report scales.

Comparing boys and girls, girls had more positive friendship qualities. No other gender differences (on overt or relational aggression, or on negative friendship qualities) were significant.

The finding from the longitudinal data was both simple and potentially very telling: the more relationally aggressive a child was at Time 1, the more they considered the positive qualities of their friendship to improve at Time 2. But here’s the rub: the relationally aggressive child’s friend did not think the positive friendship qualities had improved. So, relationally aggressive children saw their best-friendships are getting better over time, while their best-friends did not see the same increase in positive qualities (note that the best friend did not report a decrease either).

There were no relationships for negative friendship qualities – being relationally aggressive made no difference to later negative outcomes. It is important here to remember that these results are for adolescents in enduring reciprocated best friendships. A potential criticism is that this group may be characterised by lower levels of relational aggression anyway, and so we might expect that their negative friendship qualities would not be affected (or be affected less so) than young people in less enduring relationships. The authors note that the reciprocal friendship group did display lower levels of relational aggression than those not in longitudinal reciprocated best friendships – however, levels of relational aggression did not predicted whether a friendship would dissolve or not.

Study 2
This second study really took me by surprise – actually observing aggressive interactions is rarely done in research on children and young people’s aggressive behaviour because of the practical difficulties involved. However, here they used observational methods to examine how “relationally aggressive talk” (e.g. saying negative things about others in a gossipy way, trying to change the relationship between who is there and who is not) might link to friendship quality. The authors focussed on this form of talk because they are the types of behaviours that other young people might not be able to see (and so might have been less likely to be reported in Study 1).

In this second study, there were 56 adolescents (47% female) in Grades 9 and 10 (about 14 to 16 years old) who asked a best friend to also take part. They attended a laboratory session where they completed a questionnaire (assessing friendship quality) and took part in an activity which was recorded. The target participants (those who invited someone else to take part) also took part in a telephone interview 6 months later (again assessing friendship quality). In observations, the pairs asked to discuss a number of things for 5 minutes each (e.g. planning a party). Of particular interested was the section where they had to talk about their peer group. Relationally aggressive behaviours were assessed by looking at the recordings.

As in the Study 1, girls had higher positive friendship qualities and there were no other gender differences.

The authors then took a different approach to the one taken in Study 1. They compared  friendships where either
  1. both members said the other was their ‘best friend’ at both time points, or 
  2. one said ‘best friend’ and the other said ‘close friend’ at one of the time points. 
They were able to do this because they asked the young people taking part to say, in private, whether their partner was a ‘best’ or ‘close’ friend. The extent to which the target child engaged in relationally aggressive talk at time 1 predicted increases in positive friendship quality at time 2 – however, this was only true for the group (1). For group (2) relationally aggressive talk at time 1 was not related to negative friendship quality at time 2. I thought this was really interesting – it suggests that the positive benefits of engaging in relational aggression may be restricted to very close friendships. It was also interesting to see that in both of the studies reported here relational aggression did not harm friendships quality it seemed to be a no-loss situation where the young person would either improve the quality of their friendship, or there would be no impact.
Of course, there are some limitations to the study, most obviously a relatively small sample size (though a decent sample was recruited to begin with - it is just that choosing those with reciprocal friendships means you have to cut down the sample available to analyse). But the strengths, including the observational methods, peer-nomination methods, and longitudinal design, all give us some confidence in the findings.

August 26, 2011

Are tired children more aggressive children?

O’Brien, L.M., Lucas, N.H., Felt, B.T., Hoban, T.F., Ruzicka, D.L., Jordan, R., Guire, K., & Chervin, R.D. (2011/in press). Aggressive behaviour, bullying, snoring, and sleepiness in schoolchildren. Sleep Medicine, XXX.

This is another paper which has not actually been published yet, but which has been accepted for publication. These authors note that a specific sleep related problem, called sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), might contribute toward children’s aggressive behaviour. SDB can range from simple snoring through to complete obstruction of the airway which causes problems sleeping and may include frequent awakenings. SDB has already been associated with other difficulties such as being hyperactive, inattentive and possibly aggression. However, the link with aggression has not been assessed in a general, standard school population and has been restricted to clinic-referred children.

341 young people from 2nd and 5th grades (around 7 and 10 years old) took part. Parents reported on their children’s snoring, sleepiness, inattentive/hyperactive behaviour, and bullying. Teachers also reported on problem inattentive/hyperactive or conduct disordered behaviour, and bullying.

The effects of age, gender, and free school lunch qualification (i.e. Socio-Economic Status) were controlled for. Then they tried to predict whether children did or did not (i) have conduct problems (ii) bully others.
  • (i) Conduct problems: SDB score predicted Conduct problems, even after controlling for stimulant medication. This seemed to be mainly due to reports of sleepiness rather than reports of snoring.
  • (ii) Bullying: SDB did not predict Bullying in a composite measure, but when broken down by parent and teacher rating, SDB did predict parent reports of bullying. This seemed to be mainly due to reports of sleepiness rather than reports of snoring. However, when use of stimulants was included this became the only significant predictor of parent identified bullying.
  • Discipline referrals were also investigated for 198 children, and 33 of those children had two or more referrals. This referral group had higher SDB scores and were reported to be sleepier than the non-referred group. This seemed again to be mainly due to reports of sleepiness rather than reports of snoring. 
The authors note that snoring is more commonly reported as a symptom characteristic of SDB, so sleepiness may reflect something other than biologically based difficulties. For example, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the possibility that parents are simply not putting their children to bed early enough. The authors cite research evidence supporting such a possibility.

The authors also argue that the effects of sleep difficulties might be seen primarily in how well the prefrontal cortex in the brain works – this area, at the front of the brain, is involved in our planning ability and our ability to stop our selves acting on impulse (known as “executive functions”) as well as being involved in emotional control. Encouraging a good sleep routine may therefore be an additional issue which anti-bullying efforts might want to integrate into their messages.

August 19, 2011

Getting away with it - how can young people be aggressive AND popular?

Kuryluk, A., Cohen, R., & Audley-Piotrowski, A. (in press). The role of respect in the relation of aggression to popularity. Social Development.

This paper has not actually been published yet – it has been accepted for publication but will not appear in print for some months yet, making it the most cutting edge review we’ve had so far on this blog!

These authors noted that a number of researchers had found that aggressive children tend to be thought of as popular by other children. However, at the same time other children usually say they do not like aggressive children. These authors sought to explain this apparent contradiction by looking to see whether respect makes a difference to how aggression impacts on both popularity and liking by peers.

Here, 234 boys and girls from 3rd to 6th grade (approx ages 8-12 years) took part. All were attending a University-affiliated school in America, and were predominantly middle-class. Liking was assessed by asking the children to nominate who in their class they liked most and liked least, while popularity was assessed by asking who the most and least popular students were. Children also reported on their classsmates’ overt (e.g. fighting) and relational (e.g. excluding them from a group) aggression. The students were also asked to indicate who in their class they respected.

Results indicated that higher levels of both relational and overt aggression were associated with higher levels of popularity, but only if a child was highly respected. When children were not respected, their level of aggression did not have any impact on their level of popularity. This was true for both boys and girls.

For the ‘Liking’ nominations, the story was slightly different. These nominations were completely unrelated to levels of aggression among boys. However, for girls and girls only, high levels of both relational and overt aggression were related to lower levels of Liking, but only when that girls was not respected. When girls were highly respected, their levels of aggression were unrelated to Liking.

I think this is an interesting study – it suggests that the social consequences of using aggression are influenced by the degree of respect which young people have amongst their peers. In effect, if you are respected then being aggressive is also likely to make others think you are popular. However, if you are a girl and not respected, then being aggressive is likely to lead to rejection from the peer group – other children will not like you. This wasn’t true for boys, who could be aggressive without it impacting on the degree to which others liked them.

August 10, 2011

Can best friends influence the link between a child's aggression and getting into trouble?

Fite, P.J., Rathert, J.L., Grassetti, S.N., Gaertner, A.E., Campion, S., Fite, J.L., & Vitulano, M.L. (2011). Longitudinal investigation of the link between proactive and reactive aggression and disciplinary actions in an after-school care program. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 33, 205-214.

Aggression can be viewed as either ‘reactive’ (a kind of hot-headed aggression, e.g. being knocked over and reacting by jumping up and hitting whoever knocked you over) or ‘proactive’ (a more calculated, premeditated type of aggression). The authors here were interested in the relationship between this and ‘disciplinary actions’, by which they mean notification of disciplinary problems to parents by after-school carers. They note that disciplinary action within school settings often seems to increase rather than decrease problem behaviour. No research has examined after school settings and disciplinary actions though. Finally, these researchers were interested to see whether how delinquent a young person’s best friend was also influenced aggression – and, crucially, whether the best friend’s delinquency level acted as a risk factor which combined with after-school disciplinary actions to increase aggression.

147 young people aged 5 to 13 years old took part, all of whom were attending an after-school program in the USA. Information was collected once at baseline, and then a second time two months later. Self-report questionnaires were completed by all children (with help where needed). Measures were taken of proactive and reactive aggression and best friend’s delinquency at the first data collection. At both the first and second data collection, disciplinary actions were taken from formal chart reviews – these included reports of things like fighting, swearing, property damage and stealing.

Taking into account the initial level of disciplinary actions, best friend delinquency was not a predictor of later level of disciplinary actions. Reactive aggression did predict later level of disciplinary actions, and this effect did not differ according to how delinquent a best friend was. However, proactive aggression was only a predictor of level of disciplinary actions when a child’s best friend had low levels of delinquency; when the best friend had high levels of delinquency, proactive aggression did not predict level of disciplinary actions.

These results indicate that it is important to identify reactive aggression and to help children to better deal with the impulses and thoughts associated with this. The authors suggest that proactively aggression children who are in groups of delinquent peers may get in less trouble because they can manipulate others into being troublesome. In contrast, proactively aggressive children with non-delinquent peers may end up being the troublesome child and hence end up getting into trouble.

July 13, 2011

Sad or bad? The link between using the internet, playing games, and how young people behave.

Holtz, P. & Appel, M. (2011). Internet use and video gaming predict problem behavior in early adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 34 (1), 49-58.

In modern society it is common for adolescents to play video games, some of which may be inappropriate. The authors of this paper suggested that the media has a role in the formation of a sense of identity for young people and that they could be identifying with aggressive material they are exposed to. The authors’ aim was to investigate whether playing inappropriate video games can lead to externalizing and internalizing problems. Externalizing problems are overt and easily observed, e.g. aggression and delinquency. Internalizing problems occur within an individual and are more subtle, e.g. depression, anxiety, and withdrawal.

The study had two aims:
  1. To investigate whether or not internet usage is related to different kinds of problem behaviour in adolescents and if communication with parents about internet usage would have an effect on this relationship.
  2. To investigate if playing video games would be related to different kinds of problem behaviour in adolescence and whether or not the genre of these video games would have an effect.

The authors collected data from 205 (100 male) Austrian adolescents aged 10-14. Overall, 185 adolescents reported using internet. These young people were asked to state how often they used the internet and what they used the internet for (i.e. to collect information, to communicate with others, or to play games online). They were also asked if they talked to their parents about their internet usage and if their parents knew what they used the internet for. Only 81 adolescents reported communicating with their parents about their internet usage. Externalizing and internalizing were assessed using the Youth Self Report (YSR) scale.

No gender differences were found for the amount of time spent online. However there were differences found for the different ways of using the internet. Girls were more likely than boys to use the internet to get information and to communicate with others, whereas boys were more likely than girls to use the internet to play games.

The results showed that playing games and communicating (but not seeking information) online were related to externalizing problems such as aggression and delinquency.  Online gaming (but not online communication or information seeking) was related to internalizing problems such as anxiety and withdrawal.  Interestingly, the 81 adolescents who communicated with their parents about their internet usage were less likely to show problem behaviours than the other 104 adolescents.

Adolescents who played “first-person shooter” games (in which an individual advances through the game and shoots from a first-person perspective, e.g. Call of Duty) showed externalizing problems (such as anxiety and delinquency). In contrast, adolescents who played “fantasy role-play” games (in which the gamer becomes part of a virtual network and acts out the role of a virtual character, e.g. World of Warcraft) showed internalizing problems (such as anxiety and withdrawal). These results could suggest that fantasy games encourage adolescents to cut themselves off from reality and withdraw, becoming anxious about real life. Interestingly adolescents who played racing games were less likely to show internalizing problems. Thus, it could be advised that certain adolescents be encouraged to play racing games either as an alternative or an accompaniment to fantasy games.

In conclusion, these results show that internet and video game use can have negative effects for adolescents, if not managed properly. The take home message of this study should be for parents to ensure that they regularly communicate with their children about their internet use and also monitor how often their children play certain types of video game – particularly first-person shooter games and fantasy games.

This summary was produced by Lynsey Emery, an undergraduate student who is entering her final year. Her dissertation is focussing on the relationships between theory of mind, the hostile attribution bias, and proactive and reactive aggression.

June 23, 2011

Do bullied young people cope differently when they're bullied in lots of different ways?

Skrzypiec, G., Slee, P., Murray-Harvey, R., & Pereira, B. (2011). School bullying by one or more ways: Does it matter and how do students cope? School Psychology International, 32, 288-311.

This research aimed to find out whether victims of bullying experience multiple forms of bullying, such as physical, verbal and ‘covert’ (e.g. rumour spreading, exclusion from groups). Also of interest was whether victims differed in how they coped – did this differ if they were bullied in more than one way?

The 452 young people involved in this study were drawn from two mainstream Secondary schools in Australia and were all aged 12-14 years old. They were asked about their experiences of being bullied in six different ways: hit/kicked, name calling, cyber-bullying, exclusion, ignored, ‘something else’. They were also asked about a number of different coping strategies: getting support from adults, getting support from friends, trying to solve the problem themselves, pretending it wasn’t happening, taking it out on someone or something else, internalising (e.g.being upset or sad), giving into the aggressor, pretending it didn’t matter, going somewhere that the bullies were not.

Prevalence: While 32% of students reported being bullied, 12% said they were being bullied ‘about once a week’ or more often. 5% said they had been bullied for a month or more.

Of those who were bullied, 32% were bullied in more than one way; 10% were bullied in all three ways (physical, verbal and covert). Of those bullied in three ways, 31% were frequently bullied (‘most days’), while those bullied in either one or two ways were bullied less frequently (only 5-6% said ‘most days’). However, the number of ways in which students were bullied did not relate to how long they had been bullied. Despite this, students who reported more forms of bullying said that they felt a lot less safe in school than those experiencing fewer types of bullying.

Coping: 5% of young people said that they did not think they were coping very well, while 58% said they felt they were coping really well with the bullying.

There were differences in how those who were bullied coped and how those who were not bullied said they would cope. For example, bullied students reported using social support less often than non-bullied students said they would use this strategy. These two groups did not differ in the degree to which they said they would/did use problem solving coping strategies.

Comparing those bullied in one way, two ways, and three ways, there were no differences in how they coped with the behaviours they were experiencing. This was interesting because the young people reported that they thought they were coping badly when they experienced more types of coping (despite apparently coping in similar ways).

I thought this was an interesting paper, especially the indication that young people who are bullied in multiple ways do no differ in terms of how they cope with aggression from their peers, and nor are they bullied for any longer. Despite these similarities, their belief that they are coping poorly suggests that they find the situation more distressing.

June 20, 2011

Acting out after experiencing discrimination - what do genes have to do with it?

Brody, G.H., Beach, S.R.H., Chen, Y-F., Obasi, E., Philibert, R.A., Kogan, S.M., & Simons, R.L. (2011). Perceived discrimination, serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region status, and the development of conduct problems. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 617-627.

These authors were interested in changes in conduct problems during later adolescence. Conduct problems are antisocial behaviours such as aggression, destruction of property, lying and theft. These kinds of behaviours predict criminal behaviour in adult life. This study aimed to examine the contribution of young people’s experiences of discrimination in the development of conduct problems among African American adolescents. Furthermore, the study aimed to examine whether certain genetic differences among young people could make the effects of perceived discrimination on the development of conduct problems greater or lesser (i.e. whether genetic differences could reduce the likelihood that young people would develop conduct problems after they had experienced discrimination).

The genetic difference these authors investigated was the serotonin transporter gene 5-HTT.This gene differs between people who carry short or long versions of the allele 5-HTTLPR. Short versions of the allele tend to be seen in people who pay more attention to threatening things in their environment, so people with short alleles were expected to display higher levels of conduct problems in response to perceived discrimination. This genetic risk/resilience factor also seems to be more important for boys than girls.

Participants in this study were 454 African American young people living in rural Georgia, USA. These young people took part when aged 15, 16, and 17 years old. Perceived discrimination and conduct problems were self-reported by the participants, while the DNA data were collected using saliva samples.

Results supported the authors’ expectations. For boys with the short allele, levels of perceived discrimination were associated with conduct problems – when there was very little perceived discrimination this group actually had lower conduct problems than the long allele group, but when there were high levels of discrimination the short allele group showed higher levels of conduct problems. Among the long allele group the level of discrimination did not influence level of conduct problems.

The genetic variation of interest (short vs. long allele 5-HTTLPR) here seems to act as both a protective factor and risk factor – when little or no discrimination is present those with the short allele are actually better off than those with only long alleles. However, when there is high levels of discrimination present, those with the short alleles are in danger of increasing conduct problems. The authors note that others have suggested that the gene variation investigated here relates to how sensitive people are to their environment, and that while short alleles place them at risk of problems when they are in a difficult environment the sensitivity to context also means that they are more likely to take advantage of positive environments than people with only long alleles (also see Jay Belsky’s work in this regard).

Regarding the gender differences, the article suggests that the generally low levels of conduct problems among girls may account for this difference here, especially since aggression and acting out is viewed as a gender appropriate way for boys to deal with stress.

June 16, 2011

Victims of bullying twice as likely to be depressed later in life.

Ttofi, M.M., Farrington, D.P., Lösel, F., & Loeber, R. (2011). Do the victims of school bullies tend to become depressed in later life? A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 3 (2), 63-73.

These authors conducted a review of longitudinal studies which have examined the relationships between victimization in childhood and depression in later life. Longitudinal studies are those which collect data at one point in time (e.g. whether a child is bullied or not) and then collect more data again at a much later point in time (e.g. levels of depression in adult life). These kinds of studies are considered to provide strong evidence for the presence or absence of bullying as something which causes later depression. It is also possible to control for other possible causes of later depression to see whether being bullied can increase levels of depression in addition to other risk factors.

The authors also conducted a meta-analysis. This means they conducted statistical analyses on data from a number of published and unpublished studies. Meta-analyses are considered to provide more reliable judgements about the relationships between behaviours of interest (e.g. being bullied and feeling depressed) than individual studies because they pool information across different studies using different measures, samples, times, and places.

Results suggest that victims of bullying are twice as likely as non-victims to experience later depression. After controlling for other causes of later depression, this reduced slightly but being bullied remained an important predictor of later depression. The authors note that their results indicate that 33% of bullied children reported later depression as compared to 22% of other children. This is a 50% increase in risk of developing later depression.

The authors conclude that there is reliable research evidence which supports the importance of anti-bullying interventions. Reducing levels of bullying helps individuals to live happier lives, but at the same time society benefits financially because of the associated savings in health care and welfare.

June 15, 2011

Don't fight back, and don't show you're upset: What victims say helps.

Tenenbaum, L.S., Varjas, K., Meyers, J., & Parris, L. (2011). Coping strategies and perceived effectiveness in fourth through eighth grade victims of bullying. School Psychology International, 32, 263-287.

These authors were interested in the coping strategies that young people reported using when dealing with victimization. Of particular interest were whether gender differences exist in coping strategy use, and how effective the different coping strategies were considered to be by the young people themselves.

Participating students attended one elementary school and one middle school in the USA. Those who took part had been identified by adults as ‘chronic victims of bullying’. Overall, 102 young people (64 boys, 38 girls) aged 9 to 15 years old took part in small group interviews. The interview groups ranged from three to eight students and took from 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete.

Analyzing the discussions, the authors identified two main coping strategy themes and a number of more focused themes which reflected discrete ways of coping:
  • Problem-focused. This included Self-Defense (i.e. fighting back, usually as a last resort), Stand Up To The Bully, Seeking Social Support (this was the strategy reported most often), Distancing (e.g. ignoring the bulling behavior) and Internalizing (e.g. hiding your feelings so that the bully won’t know they’re upsetting you).
  • Emotion-focused. This included Seeking Social Support, Distancing (e.g. just trying to forget about the problem), Internalizing (e.g. feelin hurt and beginning to believe what the bullies say), Tension-Reduction/Externalizing (e.g. yelling at the bully, getting mad), Focus On The Positive, and Self-Blame (this was not reported very often though).


What do young people say helps?

  • Many young people thought that informing a teacher or adult was a waste of time. Some said that adults didn’t believe them, others reported that they were worried about bullying getting worse if they were seen as tell-tales. Where telling an adult was successful, this was seen as being restricted to the short-term, with bullying starting again after a while.
  • Fighting back was seen in a negative light. Students felt that either it would be ineffective and they would suffer physical pain, or they themselves risked getting into trouble at school for fighting if they fought back. This was not generally not considered to be an effective response.
  • The young people interviewed here also said that showing emotions when being bullied was a bad move and that crying or running away might actually encourage more bullying behavior.
  • Finally, these young people found that distracting themselves from their difficulties did help them to feel better – for example, drawing, reading, and listening to music.

I found the comments made by students here interesting. The fact that students reported adult help to be generally ineffective was very illuminating, and is likely one of the reasons why young people approach adults for help less and less frequently as they get older. It was also interesting to find them noting that even if bullying stopped it tended to start again at a later date – I think this emphasizes that anti-bullying policies need to incorporate ‘follow-up’ meetings to check whether resolved instances of bullying have been maintained over time.

June 13, 2011

Birds of a feather? Friendships and later aggression in early childhood.

Vitaro, F., Brendgen, M., Boivin, M., Cantin, S., Dionne, G., Tremblay, R.E., Girard, A., & Perusse, D. (2011). A monozygotic twin difference study of friends’ aggression and children’s adjustment problems. Child Development, 82 (2), 617-632.

This study examined the importance of early childhood friendships and their contribution to subsequent aggression.  The aim was to discover whether having aggressive friends in kindergarten leads to a child showing signs of aggression 1 year later.  Aggressive friends could be viewed as an environmental factor contributing to childhood aggression. However, something in an individuals’ genetic makeup may cause them to choose aggressive friends. This would be a case of genetic factors interacting with environmental factors. It can be difficult in such cases to determine whether it is genetic or environmental factors that are contributing to aggression.  Monozygotic (MZ) twins share 100% of their genes and are usually brought up together. Thus, in an MZ twin pair, if one twin shows signs of aggressive behaviour and the other does not, aggression could not be explained by genetic factors or by an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Instead, the difference must be explained by some factor out with genetics or their common environment.
This study had 3 aims:
  1. To examine whether MZ twins who had different experiences of aggressive friends in kindergarten would show different signs of aggression and depression one year later.  
  2. To examine whether twins who were victimized by their friends showed higher subsequent aggression. 
  3. To test if this effect would be the same for female twin pairs as male twin pairs.

Two-hundred and thirty- three MZ twin pairs (117 female pairs) from Canada took part in the study. Children were assessed at 5, 19, 30, 48, 60, 72 and 84 months. Teachers and classmates were asked to rate the extent to which each twin had shown aggressive behaviour and depressive signs over the last 6 months. Twins were asked who their three best friends in the class were but were not allowed to nominate their own twin.  Twins’ perception of their friend’s aggression towards them was assessed by interviewing each twin and asking questions about their friend’s behaviour. For example, twins were asked how often their friend had said mean things to them since the beginning of the school year.

The results showed that, even after controlling for other factors such as twins being bullied and twins being treated differently by their parents, having aggressive friends in kindergarten made a significant contribution to the difference in aggression between MZ twins one year later. This result was found for male and female twin pairs.

Contradictory to previous evidence, having aggressive friends in kindergarten was not correlated with depressive symptoms one year later. This may be because in the present study the authors did not ask the children themselves whether they experienced any depressive symptoms (they collected this information from teachers and classmates). This meant that they could not assess the thoughts and feelings of each twin. Another possibility could be that friends’ aggression and depressive symptoms correlate due to genetic factors or an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. However, by using MZ twins, the present study eliminated this possibility.

For male, but not female, twins who thought that they were being victimized by their friends were more likely to show symptoms of aggression one year later. This raises interesting questions about how friendship experiences can have different effects for male and female children.

In summary, the present study found a link between early childhood friendships and subsequent aggressive behaviour. This link was found independent of genetic influences, interactions between genetics and environment and other influences from the twin’s unique environment (such as being treated differently by parents and being bullied). Therefore, friendships early on in childhood seem to be of great significance to subsequent development.

This summary was produced by Lynsey Emery, an undergraduate student who is entering her final year. Her dissertation is focussing on the relationships between theory of mind, the hostile attribution bias, and proactive and reactive aggression.

June 09, 2011

Can bullies work with other children on collaborative tasks?

Murphy, S., & Faulkner, D. (2011). The relationship between bullying roles and children’s everyday dyadic interactions. Social Development, 20 (2), 272-293.

The authors of this study were interested in the ways that children interacted on a task which required them to work together in pairs. Of particular interest were differences in these interactions depending upon the roles that children in those pairs play in bullying situations. The roles of interest here were
  • ‘Defenders’ are those young people who intervene when they see bullying taking place, either directly or by telling a teacher
  • ‘Bullies’ are those young people who initiate or take the lead in bullying others
  • ‘No role’ are those young people who are not in the above roles, and neither are they involved in any other direct way with bullying (e.g. as a victim or as someone who supports the bullies).

One hundred and forty two 6- to- 9-year old children took part. They were first nominated by each other as belonging to specific bullying roles, and children also said how they most liked playing with. Of these 142, a subgroup of 68 took part in further collaborative tasks. These tasks were completed in pairs, and the pairs were different combinations of the three groups of interest: bullies, defenders, and those children with no role. The collaborative task involved children completing a computerised shopping game, and several measures were taken here including: how many moves were made (fewer was better), possession of the computer mouse (degree to which this was shared), and verbal communication.

Defenders: These children were less likely to disagree with their task partners than were bullies, and they more often tried to explain instructions and to give information. They were also assertive and confident enough to give direct guidance on how to complete the task, are were unlikely to simply disagree with their partners in an unhelpful, unconstructive manner.

Bullies: These children tended to disagree with partners more, and this was more often of an unsupportive nature where the disagreement was presented as final. They were also less likely to give helpful explanations and tended to give fewer instructions guiding their partner’s efforts. However, the authors note that it is also interesting that bullies did not make more demands and nor did they express negative feelings anymore than other children. Bullies also did not control the mouse any more than other children. So, children identified as bullies by their peers were not constantly being unhelpful and obstructive (as might have been expected) – rather, they seemed to lack some positive skills (e.g. giving helpful explanations) which defenders were able to more routinely demonstrate. The authors also note that the bullies’ behaviours may reflect difficulties they have in planning tasks and behaviours more generally (known as an executive function problem).

Non-role children: These children are those who are not consistently involved in bullying in any single role. The results reported here suggest that these children were able to change how they behaved when working with different children, and that they used strategies which were unlikely to challenge the possible dominance of bullies – that is to say, bullies may seem to be socially important and have lots of influence in the peer group (certainly at this age) and so non-role children deferred to them. Specifically, they took charge less and told bullies what do so less than they did when working with defenders or other non-role children.

I found this paper really interesting. There are a number of anti-bullying interventions which incorporate social skills training, and this work suggests that such work may be particularly useful for children who bully – though, of course, helping those children to act more collaboratively on an academic task may not necessarily mean they are more collaborative or helpful in social situations.

June 07, 2011

"It was THEIR fault!" Bullies' justifications for bullying.

Perren, S., & Sticca, F. (2011). Bullying and morality: Are there differences between traditional bullies and cyberbullies? Poster presentation at Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 31 March-2 April.

This is a summary of research presented at a recent conference, and this means that the results may differ somewhat from any final peer-reviewed article which results from this study.

These authors suggest that it may be easier to ‘morally disengage’ in cyberbullying than in traditional bullying.  Moral disengagement basically means that aggressors will feel less remorse, and the authors suggest that this may be because aggressors usually don’t see the victim’s responses if they use cyber-aggression.

Young German-speaking students completed a self-report survey and were recruited from a ‘large social networking site’. A total of 486 students completed the survey, and they were aged 12-20 years old (47% were female). Moral disengagement and moral responsibility were assessed using both self-report measures and production measures – the latter are measures where the participants read short stories and had to give their own justifications or decisions about responsibility.

Young people classed as cyber-bullies or as traditional bullies reported higher levels of moral disengagement and lower levels of moral responsibility. However, there was no difference between cyber-bullies or traditional bullies. Boys also reported higher levels of moral disengagement and lower levels of moral responsibility.

These results suggest that young people who use bullying behaviours (cyber or traditional) are likely report that they were provoked and that it was not their fault that they acted aggressively. This in turn may suggest that bullies require help identifying the causes of their own behaviour and help to take more responsibility for their own actions.

June 02, 2011

What links pre-school and early-school aggression?

Olson, S.L., Lopez-Duran, N., Lunkenheimer, E.S., Chang, H., & Sameroff, A.J. (2011). Individual differences in the development of early peer aggression: Integrating contributions of self-regulation, theory of mind, and parenting. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 253-266.

In preschool, most children struggle to control aggressive impulses and have difficulty managing their emotions. However, these are normal developmental tasks which children generally shown good mastery of by the time they enter formal schooling. These authors wanted to better understand the degree to which these factors are associated with aggressive behaviour, and whether they help to explain why some children continue to be aggressive and disruptive even when they have entered school. The specific factors these authors were interested in were:
  • The degree to which children are able to control their negative emotional reactions.
  • Children’s understanding of other people’s beliefs and intentions, known as Theory of Mind
  • parenting behaviour, specifically use of physical punishment and levels of warm, responsive parenting.

199 American 3-year-old children took part (118 girls). They took part in a testing session to assess the variables of interest, and their mother’s reported on their child’s temperament and behaviour. When the children were 6-years-old, teacher’s reported on then children’s adjustment and observations of the children’s aggression in class and playground settings were also conducted.

Boys experienced higher levels of physical punishment than girls, and had lower scores on theory of mind. There were no gender differences on emotional reactivity or levels of maternal warmth. Preschool children’s levels of theory of mind and emotional reactivity were not useful in predicting aggression at age 6. Children’s early ability to control their own behaviour and to stop them selves acting on impulses did however predict later aggressive behaviour. However, the most important predictor was physical punishment used by parents. It was also true that children with low theory of mind and low maternal warmth were at risk for acting aggressively later. These findings were true for both boys and girls.

The authors conclude by highlighting the importance of family based interventions as problematic pre-school parenting was the most important factor in explaining later child aggression.

June 01, 2011

Can managing emotions reduce early-school victimisation?

Giesbrecht, G.F., Leadbeater, B.J., & MacDonald, S.W.S. (2011). Child and context characteristics in trajectories of physical and relational victimization among early elementary school children. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 239-252.

This article seeks to understand changes in physical (e.g. hitting, pushing etc) and relational (i.e. manipulating relationships) victimisation across Grades 1, 2, and 3 (that’s approximately ages 6.5 to 8.5 years old). Of particular interest were:
  1. ‘Within person’ predictors of change: (i) how physically aggressive the child was and (ii) emotional dysregulation i.e. how easily upset the child was, how much difficulty they have controlling their emotions. Data on both these issues were gathered using teacher-reports.
  2. 'Between person’ predictors of change: this just refers to whether age and gender can help us understand differences in how victimisation changes across this age span.
  3. ‘Between school’ predictors of change: this referred to the extent to which participation in a victimisation prevention program influenced how victimisation changes across this age span. The intervention used was the WITS (Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help) intervention (see Leadbeater et al., 2003, for more details).

A total of 432 children started the study and 385 continued to participate in Grade 3. Physical and relational victimisation were self-reported by the children. Multilevel modelling was used to analyse the data.

Overall both types of victimisation decreased over time, by 11% per year for physical and 7% per year for relational. However, these decreases were influenced by other variables in the study:
  • Physically aggressive children were almost twice as likely to be victimised than children who were not physically aggressive.
  • Levels of physical victimisation reduced more slowly over time for children with worse emotion dysregulation.
  • Levels of relational victimisation actually increased over time for children with worse emotion dysregulation.

Children who participated in the WITS program declined in levels of victimisation at a faster rate than those children who did not take part in WITS. Age and gender did not influence change in victimisation over time.

This study highlights that specific difficulties which children exhibit early on in school can act as markers for increasing victimisation. In particular, children who find it difficult to control and deal with their own emotional reactions and children who are themselves aggressive may both be at risk of victimisation in the early school years. Note that this isn’t to somehow blame the victims, or to justify why others pick on them. However, if adults notice these difficulties they may be able to help children address them and, in turn, help children to integrate more successfully into social settings.

References:
Leadbeater, B., Hoglund, W., & Woods, T. (2003). Changing contents? The effects of a primary prevention program on classroom levels of peer relational and physical victimisation. Journal of Community Psychology, 31, 397-418.

May 27, 2011

Can support from friends and parents really help bullied teens?

Rothon, C., Head, J., Klineberg, E., & Stansfeld, S. (2011). Can social support protect bullied adolescents from adverse outcomes? A prospective study on the effects of bullying on the educational achievement and mental health of adolescents at secondary schools. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 579-588.

These authors aimed to examine whether adolescents could be protected against the negative effects of bullying on both educational attainment and symptoms of depression. In particular, their focus was on whether social support could protect young people, and they were particularly interested in the identity of those providing support (parents or friends).

In the study, data were collected from 2093 young people in East London aged 11-14 years old. Experiences of being bullied and social support recruited at that time were self-reported. Then, two years later, symptoms of depression (again, self-report) and educational attainment were assessed. Educational attainment was categorised as either passing or failing a specific benchmark.

Overall, 9.1% of the sample reported that they had been bullied in the preceding term. Older students were less likely to be bullied than younger. Boys and girls were equally likely to have been bullied.

Bullying and symptoms of depression: being bullied significantly increased boys’ reported symptoms, but did not influence girls’ symptoms. For boys, social support from friends helped to reduce the number of depressive symptoms, though bullied boys still had problems of this nature. Parental support made no difference.

Bullying and academic achievement: being bullied had a strong impact on students’ chances of achieving the benchmark in academic achievement. Those who had low or moderate levels of support from friends were less likely to achieve the benchmark than were those with high levels of support. With regards to family support, only having moderate levels of family support helped students to achieve the benchmark. This last finding seems odd to me, and I’d personally like to see it replicated before placing much weight on it.

May 19, 2011

Which thoughts lead to aggressive behaviors?

Peets, K., Hodges, E.V.E., & Salmivalli, C. (2011). Actualization of social cognitions into aggressive behavior toward disliked targets. Social Development, 20 (2), 233-250.

This study aimed to better understand how children’s thoughts related to the extent to which they were aggressive toward other children they disliked. The specific thoughts the authors were interested in were taken from social information processing theory (see Crick & Dodge, 1994). They wanted to look at
(i) the tendency for children think others are acting in a threatening way, even when the other child’s actions are ambiguous. This is called a Hostile Attribution Bias.
(ii) how confident children are that they can be ‘successfully’ aggressive (e.g. whether they could easily push someone over)
(iii) how angry the child thinks they would be in different social situations.

The authors looked at the degree to which these different thoughts explain children’s aggression toward other children whom they disliked. They were also interested in whether the length of time that the ‘disliking’ had gone on had an effect, and whether the extent to which both children were known to be aggressive had an effect.

Children in this study were 195 11-12 year olds (56% were girls) from Finland. These children provided information at two time points, one year apart from each other. All children reported who they disliked in class, and all reported on how aggressive other children in their class were. Everything else of interest (the specific thoughts outlined above) were assessed by presenting short stories and asking the children questions about these.

This study found that children who expected to feel high levels of anger in social situations, and who were confident in their use of aggression, were more likely to be aggressive – but this was most true when they had disliked someone for a long time.

They also found that certain thoughts were closely linked to specific types of aggression. The Hostile Attribution Bias predicted ‘reactive’ aggression (a kind of hot-headed aggression, e.g. being knocked over and reacting by jumping up and hitting whoever knocked you over). In contrast, the degree to which children were confident about being aggressive toward other children predicted their ‘proactive’ aggression (a more calculated, premeditated type of aggression – like bullying).

Of particular interest to me was the finding that children were more likely to be proactively aggressive when the child they were being aggressive toward was themselves reactively aggressive. This suggest that bullies might deliberately pick on other children who they know will try to fight back, and that in turn might suggest that they are confident that the victim’s efforts will be unsuccessful. This reinforces the anti-bullying advice that if often offered i.e. if someone is picking on you, ignoring them might be the best way to get them to leave you alone.

May 18, 2011

Social Anxiety Disorder and Victimization

Gren-Landell, M., Aho, N., Andersson, G., & Svedin, C.G. (2011). Social anxiety disorder and victimization in a community sample of adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 34, 569-577.

People with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are very scared or worried about social situations. The authors argue here that peer victimization might be important in the development of this problem, and were particularly interested in the relationship between SAD and different types of peer-victimization.

A representative, community sample of 3211 Swedish adolescents took part. All participants were 17 years old (51% female) and they completed an online questionnaire which allowed the researchers to classify all participants as either ‘probable cases’ of SAD or not. The young people also reported on their experiences of different types of victimization: conventional crime (e.g. robbery), maltreatment (e.g. physical abuse by a parent), peer or sibling victimization (e.g. bullying, dating violence), sexual victimization (e.g. rape, verbal sexual harassment), and witnessing victimization (e.g. domestic violence, war). For each of these five types of victimization, students were asked to report whether these things had happened in the preceding 12 months or before that time.

Overall, SAD was present in 10.6% of the group, and rates were highest amongst females, those in large cities, and those born abroad or whose parents were born abroad.

The young people who were classified as ‘probable cases’ of SAD reported more lifetime victimization overall, and higher levels of maltreatment, sexual victimization and peer or sibling victimization. They did not differ on levels of conventional crime or on levels of witnessing victimization. There were also some gender differences which indicated that ‘lifetime’ levels of peer or sibling victimization was the only important precursor to SAD for males. In contrast, ‘recent’ experiences peer or sibling victimization and ‘recent’ experiences of sexual victimization were important for SAD among females. Among females, ‘lifetime’ experiences of peer or sibling victimization, sexual victimization, and maltreatment were all important.

The authors note the importance, for both researchers and clinicians, of looking into the gender-specific relationships between types of victimization and SAD.