Statement of Purpose Loneliness is a particularly problematic consequence of peer victimization, due to its relation to poor psychological outcomes and later victimization. Friendship quality has been found to mediate and moderate relations between types of bullying victimization and psychological outcomes, but little research has examined multiple types of bullying behavior. Though sexual harassment can strain personal relationships, victims have been found to consider friends an important source of support. The direct relations between sexual harassment victimization and social outcomes have not been investigated. Consequently, we examined the relations between bullying and sexual harassment victimization, loneliness, and friendship intimacy in two samples of adolescents.
Methods/Approach Assessments of peer victimization, friendship quality, and loneliness were administered to students in a suburban high school in New England in 2011 and 2014. We used structural equation modeling to examine the relations between three types of bullying victimization, sexual harassment victimization, loneliness, and friendship intimacy. We specifically examined the role of friendship intimacy in the relations between peer victimization and loneliness.
Results Relational and verbal bullying victimization showed consistent relations with loneliness in two years of data and sexual harassment showed a relation to loneliness in one year of data, but not both years. Friendship intimacy was not found to impact the relations between peer victimization and loneliness.
Conclusion Different types of peer victimization may differentially impact social outcomes for adolescents, though the role of friendships requires further research. Targeted interventions may hold promise for addressing loneliness in victims of verbal and relational bullying.
Significance The consequences of peer victimization can persist into emerging adulthood. This study highlights the importance of examining the differential effects of multiple types of victimization. Though no significant role of friendship intimacy was found, friendships are an accessible source of support for adolescents which warrant further investigation as potential buffers to negative outcomes from peer victimization.
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