The Role of Classmates’ Social Support, Peer Victimization and Gender in Externalizing and Internalizing Behaviors among Canadian Youth

Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz, Faye Mishna*, Mona Khoury-Kassabri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is sound evidence that increased level of peer support is linked negatively with youth vulnerably to internalizing and externalizing problems. Conversely, victimization by peers is associated positively with youth adjustment difficulties. The current study examines the mediating role of victimization in the association between classmates’ support and internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and the moderating role of gender in that association. The study is based on a sample of 243 7th grade Canadian adolescents. The results show that classmates’ support has a unique contribution to reduced adolescents’ internalizing behaviors above and beyond the effects of parental and teachers’ support. This association was partially mediated by youth victimization. Classmates’ support was a stronger predictor of internalizing behaviors among females compared to males. With respect to externalizing behaviors, the results indicated that while classmates’ support has no direct association with that outcome, parental support plays a central role in predicting externalizing behaviors. The association between classmates’ support and externalizing behavior was fully mediated by youth victimization. The current study highlights the importance of support by peers, with whom they interact on a regular basis, to adolescents’ well-being and functioning. The results also indicate that parents are still significant figures in adolescents’ lives. Those facts should be taken into account when intervening with young people.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2335-2346
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume28
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Internalizing and externalizing behaviors
  • Peer support
  • Peer victimization

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