Peer Harassment in School: The Plight of the Vulnerable and Victimized

By Jaana Juvonen; Sandra Graham | Go to book overview

4

Self-Views versus Peer
Perceptions of Victim Status
among Early Adolescents

JAANA JUVONEN, ADRIENNE NISHINA,
and SANDRA GRAHAM

Peer harassment is most typically assessed using self-ratings or peer nominations (e.g., Pellegrini, Chapter 5, this volume). Researchers contend that self-reports should be relied upon because it is children themselves who are in the best position to know whether they are victimized. Similarly, peers are presumed to be excellent informants because they are privy to harassment incidents that often take place in situations with no adult observers. Despite the reasonable face validity of the two measures and despite the fact that self-perceptions and peer perceptions are assessed in the same classroom or school context, the data from the two sources are only moderately correlated. The correlation coefficients typically range from .2 to .4 (e.g., Crick & Bigbee, 1998; Graham & Juvonen, 1998; Österman et al., 1994; Pellegrini, Chapter 5, this volume). This means that, at most, the two measures share only about 16% of the variance.

The lack of correspondence between the two types of measures and inconsistent findings across studies that rely on either self-reports or peer reports raise questions about the validity of the data. For example, with regard to prevalence estimates, self-reports yield higher rates of victimization than do peer nominations even when similar cutoff scores are utilized (e.g., Schuster, 1996). Self-reports are believed to provide inflated rather than accurate estimates of harassment as compared with peer reports (e.g.,

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