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Trajectories of peer victimization in elementary school children: Associations with changes in internalizing, externalizing, social competence, and school climate (Journal of Community Psychology)

PaweenaBonnie Leadbeater PhDFirst published: 29 April 2020,


The current study examines the developmental changes (internalizing and externalizing symptoms, social competence, and experiences of school climate) in children who follow distinct trajectories of peer victimization in a sample of elementary school children across 2 years.

Data were from children, and their parents and teachers, in Grades 1–3 followed across five waves. Latent class analyses revealed four distinct victimization trajectory groups characterized by chronically high, increasing, decreasing, or low‐stable levels across time.

Multilevel analyses showed that children in the chronically high peer victimization group had higher initials levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, lower levels of social competence, and poorer experiences of school climate compared to children in the low‐stable group.

Over time, children in the increasing group had slower rates of increases in social competence than children in the low‐stable group and had worsening experiences of school climate compared to children in the low‐stable peer victimization group.

Findings suggest children who are chronically victimized may be at a developmental disadvantage compared to children who report little or declining peer victimization over time.

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