Peer victimization, social -psychological adjustment, and the moderating role of social support

Jennifer A Nielsen, Pace University


Childhood aggression and victimization are commonly explored topics in social development literature. Both experiences can exist in different forms such as overt, relational, and reputational or direct and indirect. No matter the form, aggression and victimization during childhood, and particularly among the peer group, have untoward effects on concurrent and future social-psychological adjustment. Social support is a third broadly researched topic, as it has the potential to protect children from adjustment problems. Emphasis has been heavily placed on the power of friendship and family support. Nevertheless, questions still remain regarding different forms of peer victimization and specific, similarly differentiated sources of social support. The present study's primary goal was to elucidate the interplay between participant sex, form of victimization, and source of social support when predicting adjustment. Original data was collected from 232 ninth grade students in group administrations. Students were queried about their experiences with different forms of peer victimization, adjustment indices such as depression, loneliness, and externalizing problems, as well as about social support provided by male and female caregivers and by friends. Findings indicated that support from differentiated sources could effectively buffer the relationship between peer victimization forms and indices of maladjustment. Frequently, mothers emerged as the strongest source of support in protecting children from maladjustment, and were closely followed by fathers. Antagonistic effects were unexpectedly revealed, particularly for friend support. The current research underscored the value of differentiated sources of social support. The clout of such supports may be most useful in providing tailored prevention and intervention services to young adolescents who are at risk for adjustment problems.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Nielsen, Jennifer A, "Peer victimization, social -psychological adjustment, and the moderating role of social support" (2006). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3222530.



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