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Children's Treatment By Peers: Victims Of Relational And Overt Aggression

Nicki R. Crick, Jennifer K. Grotpeter

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AbstractPast research on peer victimization has focused on maltreatment through overtly aggressive behaviors. Although a relational form of aggression has been identified in recent research, studies of the victims of relational aggression have not yet been conducted. The present research was designed as a first attempt to address this issue. Four goals were pursued (n = 474; third- through sixth-grade children): (a) development of a self-report measure of victimization through relational and overt aggression; (b) assessment of the relation between overt victimization and relational victimization; (c) assessment of gender, grade, and sociometric status group differences in victimization; and (d) evaluation of the relation between victimization and social-psychological adjustment. Results showed that the newly developed victimization measure had favorable psychometric properties and that most of the identified victims were the targets of cither relational or overt aggression, but not both. Further, rejected children were more relationally and overtly victimized than their better accepted peers, and boys were more overtly victimized than girls. Finally, relational victimization, overt victimization, and the lack of prosocial treatment by peers were all significantly related to social-psychological adjustment difficulties (e.g., depression, loneliness).