The transition to secondary school is accompanied by the fragmentation of peer groups, while adolescents are also confronted with heightened incidents of bullying and increased levels of internalizing problems. Victimization, peer rejection, and internalizing problems are known to be interrelated, but how they influence each other over time remains unclear. We tested the direction of these associations by applying a cross-lagged path model among a large sample of Finnish adolescents (N = 5645; 49.1 % boys; M age at T1 = 14.0 years) after they transitioned to secondary school (grades 7–9). Self-reported depression, anxiety, and victimization and peer-reported rejection were measured 3 times over the course of 1 year. Results showed that depression was predictive of subsequent victimization for both boys and girls, in line with a symptoms-driven model; for girls, anxiety was reciprocally related to victimization, in line with a transactional model; for boys, victimization was related to subsequent anxiety, in line with an interpersonal risk model. Peer rejection was not directly related to depression or anxiety, but among girls peer rejection was bi-directionally related to victimization. Overall, our results suggest that associations between internalizing problems and peer relations differ between depression and anxiety and between genders. Implications for practice and directions for future research are discussed.

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Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Department of Psychology

Sentse, M., Prinzie, P., & Salmivalli, C. (2017). Testing the Direction of Longitudinal Paths between Victimization, Peer Rejection, and Different Types of Internalizing Problems in Adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 45(5), 1013–1023. doi:10.1007/s10802-016-0216-y