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Identification of Aggressive and Asocial Victims and the Stability of Their Peer Victimization
Abstract

Despite the awareness that victims of peer aggression are a behaviorally heterogeneous group of children, current classification procedures limit the number of variables that may be used to identify victim subtypes. Findings from this study, which followed 379 racially diverse children (50% female) from kindergarten to 3rd grade, demonstrated the utility of cluster analysis to classify children using several criteria: teacher-rated aggressiveness and asocial tendencies and self-reported peer victimization. Specifically, four subtypes of victims were identified: nonaggressive nonasocial; aggressive; asocial; and both aggressive and asocial. Group differences in the stability of victimization are discussed. Moreover, early levels of aggression predicted increases in victimization and chronicity; the role of asocial behavior was less clear. While more aggressive victims were rejected by their peers than nonaggressive nonasocial victims, victims who were rejected, regardless of behavioral tendencies, were more likely to remain victimized than their better accepted counterparts. Developmental trends are discussed.