Developmental Trajectories of Elementary School Peer Victimization as Related to School Safety and Climate

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Polihronis, Christine




The goal of this study was to better understand how children’s perceptions of their school's context (both climate and safety) were related to peer victimization trajectories (both relational and physical) from grades 3 to 6. A total of 886 children from three Canadian provinces in grades 3 and 4 at baseline were followed across 5 waves from the spring of 2011 to the spring of 2013. Children’s perceptions of their physical and relational victimization experiences, school safety, and school climate (teacher-child relationships, peer relationships, and fairness) were collected at all 5 time points. Individual growth curve modeling was used to determine the level of victimization as well as the rate of changes from grade 3 to grade 6. Two cohort-sequential growth curve models indicated that relational and physical victimization declined by 8% and 10%, per year, respectively. Boys were higher in physical victimization and girls were higher in relational victimization at all time points, but declined at similar rates over time. Children who never felt safe and had overall negative relationships with their teachers reported more relational victimization across time. Boys who reported overall good teacher relationships also reported higher levels of physical victimization. Children who never felt safe reported the highest levels of relational and physical victimization. Poor peer relationships and feeling safe sometimes were associated with slight increases in physical victimization, whereas good peer relationships were associated with slight decreases in physical victimization. The lack of contribution of teacher relationships, peer relationships, fairness, and safety to the rate of decline for relational victimization suggests that more research is needed to determine the factors beyond those measured that will increase the rate of decline. Multiple relationships may be associated with children’s trajectories of peer victimization and highlight the necessity of assessing family, peer, as well as teacher relationships within a single study.


Psychology - Developmental




Carleton University

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