The reasons behind early adolescents' responses to peer victimization.J Youth Adolesc. 2013 Feb; 42(2):275-84.JY
Victims of school-based peer harassment face a range of risks including psycho-social, physical, and academic harm. The aim of the present study was to examine the behavioral coping responses used by early adolescents when they face peer victimization. To meet this aim, 216 sixth grade students (55 % girls) from two urban middle schools and 254 students (50 % girls) from one suburban middle school completed structured open-ended questions about a recent peer victimization experience. In both school settings, the results supported both previously- and newly-identified coping responses that fit within the approach-avoidance coping framework, reasoning that maps on to social information processing models, and systematic associations between reasoning and the coping responses adopted by the adolescents. In both school settings, approach responses were associated with having the goal of defending oneself against the victimization whereas avoidance responses were associated with wanting to prevent the escalation of the peer victimization event. The discussion argues that knowledge about the link between reasoning and coping responses can be informative to understanding what coping responses are effective for victims.