Tracking the Trajectories of Peer Victimization and Negative Self-Cognitions in Children: A Longitudinal Approach to Approximating Causality
This study investigates the effect of targeted peer victimization (TPV) on negative self-cognitions as a function of victimization type through a three-wave longitudinal study. Measures of TPV and cognitions were collected from 956 students equally distributed through grades three through eight. Two types of TPV were analyzed: physical peer victimization, which occurs when a person is controlled or injured by physical means, and relational peer victimization, which includes acts or statements intended to harm peer relationships and social acceptance. Obtained results are as follows: (a) both negative self-cognitions and TPV have high rates of stability over time; (b) while both genders experience higher levels of relational victimization than physical victimization, females experience more relational victimization than males do, and males experience more physical victimization than females do; and (c) relational victimization was more related to changes in depressive self-cognitions than was physical victimization. However, neither type of PV was significant after controlling for prior levels of the cognitive variable. Implications and avenues for future research are discussed.