Contexts, Causes, and Consequences: New Directions in Peer Victimization Research


Peer victimization research has proliferated over the past few decades as researchers worldwide have identified risk factors, and documented both short-term and long-term consequences, associated with peer harassment. This special issue represents a second generation of peer victimization research in which contextual variables are considered as potential moderators of both risk and outcomes. Context is broadly defined to encompass not only physical location and space, but also developmental periods, social environs, and individual characteristics. The first half of this issue focuses on known risk factors, such as aggression, social withdrawal, anxiety, and peer rejection, with two of these studies demonstrating how peer group context (e.g., bystander behavior and social group norms) moderates children's risk. The second half focuses on mediating processes and contextual factors, such as school engagement, children's perceptions of teachers' responses to bullying, social hopelessness, and perceived family support. In sum, the papers compiled for this special issue reflect the complexity of the bullying phenomena and illuminate promising new directions of research to further our understanding of this ubiquitous problem.