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Trajectory Classes of Relational and Physical Bullying Victimization: Links with Peer and Teacher-Student Relationships and Social-Emotional Outcomes.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence  (IF4.381),  Pub Date : 2021-11-29, DOI: 10.1007/s10964-021-01544-7
Karlien Demol,Karine Verschueren,Isabel M Ten Bokkel,Fleur E van Gils,Hilde Colpin

Bullying victimization is a prevalent problem in upper elementary school that predicts various detrimental outcomes. Increasing evidence suggests that interindividual differences in the severity of these outcomes result from differences in victimization experiences. However, longitudinal research largely overlooked victimization forms. Additionally, it is unclear how the quality of students' relationships with peers and teachers functions as a risk or protective factor for different patterns of victimization development. This one-year longitudinal study investigated joint trajectories of relational and physical victimization and examined differences between these trajectory classes regarding classroom social relationships as possible antecedents and social-emotional well-being as a possible outcome. A sample of 930 fourth to sixth graders (55 classes, 53.1% girls, Mage = 10.55, SD = 0.90) completed self-reports about relational and physical victimization and social-emotional outcomes (i.e., depressive symptoms, self-esteem). Peer nominations were used to measure the social antecedents (i.e., peer rejection and acceptance, teacher-student closeness and conflict). A 3-step approach including Latent Class Growth Analyses and Growth Mixture Modeling yielded two trajectory classes. Most students experienced low, decreasing relational and physical victimization. A smaller group experienced higher, generally stable victimization, more relational than physical. Younger students and girls were more likely to be members of the latter class. This class was more rejected, less accepted, reported more depressive symptoms and lower self-esteem. Teacher-student closeness and conflict were similar across classes. The current study showed that relational and physical victimization followed a largely parallel development. Low social status was found to be a risk factor for belonging to a victimization trajectory that is characterized by stable levels of both relational and physical victimization, with higher levels of the relational form.