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Child Dev. 1996 Aug;67(4):1305-17.

Peer victimization: cause or consequence of school maladjustment?

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University of Illinois, Children's Research Center, Champaign, IL 61820, USA.


Past research has shown that peer victimization and school maladjustment are related, but it is unclear whether victimization is a cause or consequence of such difficulties. This study examined whether (a) peer victimization is a precursor of school maladjustment, (b) the effects are limited to the period of victimization, and (c) stable peer victimization experiences compound adjustment difficulties. Toward this end, data were collected on 200 5- and 6-year-old children (105 males, 95 females) in the fall and spring of kindergarten. Findings supported the hypothesis that victimization is a precursor of children's loneliness and school avoidance. Whereas children's feelings of loneliness were more pronounced while victimization was occurring, delayed effects were found for school avoidance. Furthermore, the duration of children's victimization experiences was related to the magnitude of their school adjustment problems.

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