restricted access Peer Clique Participation of Victimized Children: Characteristics and Implications for Victimization Over a School Year


This study examined aspects of peer clique participation that mitigated victimization by peers over a school year. Participants were 1,033 children age 8–14 years (Mage = 11.81; 444 boys and 589 girls), including 128 (66 boys) victimized children. Cliques (N = 162) and clique participation were assessed by using the Social Cognitive Map, friendship and behavioral nominations, and observed clique interactions. Almost all victimized children (93%) were clique members. On average, their cliques were more mixed-gender, loosely tied, and peripheral in the peer network, and they were more marginal clique members and treated more negatively during clique interactions than were nonvictims. Variation in clique experience revealed that victimization was mitigated over the school year by greater centrality and friendship within cliques and greater clique aggression, and exacerbated by greater clique victimization and age. These findings suggest that allegiance, affection, and power may deter attacks and motivate cliquemates' defense of victims.