Kids' Coping Ability Minimizes Peer Victimization

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Adolescents' beliefs in their own coping abilities can help mediate the psychosocial impact of relational victimization in school, results of a study have shown.

Students who can disengage themselves from the role of victim, who avoid self-blame, and who use active coping strategies--such as addressing problems or seeking help--are less vulnerable to the negative effects of peer behavior that is purposefully intended to damage social relationships, such as exclusion or rumor spreading, Puneet Singh reported in a poster presentation at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.

Such relational victimization by peers has been identified as a significant predictor of internalizing distress, including depression and social anxiety, among school-age children. Coping self-efficacy, which refers to an individual's belief in his or her ability to handle adversity, has consistently been shown to be central in an individual's ability to recover from distressing events, said Ms. Singh, a doctoral candidate at Macquarie (Sydney) University.

To examine the relationship between coping strategies and the negative outcomes of relational victimization in adolescents, Ms. Singh and her colleagues considered the experiences of 2,162 predominantly white middle-class children recruited from 18 schools and four grades (sixth to ninth). All of the students completed a three-item peer relational victimization survey and a coping self-efficacy questionnaire that included items relating to active coping strategies, avoiding negative construal (self-blame), victim role disengagement, positive construal, and avoiding aggressive behavior. …