This study examines the degree to which the existence of a pre- adolescent 'chum' interacts with family and social environments to buffer mental distress in adolescents. 831 high school students participated in this study, (male: 355; female: 476; mean age 16.7 +/- 1.0). Subjects were administered questionnaires assessing psychopathology and support systems. A pathway analyses model was used to investigate pathways and their interrelationships from chum to psychopathology and from social and family support to psychopathology. Only when adolescents experience weak parental bonding does chumship have a role in buffering distress.