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The group nature of peer-victimisation among young children: An observational study

The group nature of peer-victimisation among young children: An observational study

Monks, Claire ORCID: 0000-0003-2638-181X (2014) The group nature of peer-victimisation among young children: An observational study. In: The 23rd Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD), 8-12 July 2014, Shanghai, China.

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There is some suggestion that the nature of peer-victimisation differs among younger and older children in some important ways. First, it has been found that, although aggressive behaviour towards peers appears to be relatively stable over time, the role of the victim shows lower temporal stability according to peer and self reports (e.g. Ladd & Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2006), but that there appears to be some stability over time for teacher reports (e.g. Ostrov, 2008). Second, research has found that during middle childhood and adolescence bullying appears to be a group process (Salmivalli et al., 1996; Sutton et al., 1999), with some children taking supporting or reinforcing roles during incidents of peer-victimisation. However, peer-reports with younger children (4-6 years) have failed to identify the roles of Assistant (to the bully) or Reinforcer (who reinforces the bully’s activities) with any reliability (e.g. Monks et al., 2003; Monks & Smith, 2010). It has been suggested that these differences may reflect true differences in the nature of peer-victimisation in early childhood or may reflect limitations in young children’s cognitive capacity to identify victimisation and less impactful behaviours in their peers. To attempt to overcome the potential methodological issues of previous studies, the findings of an observational study of 58 children (girls, N=24, 41.38%) aged 4 and 5 years from 2 Reception Classes in London are presented. Observations were conducted of each child using time-sampling during free-play at school. Each child was observed for 50 minutes across the course of 5 weeks. The focal child’s behaviour during episodes of peer-victimisation was recorded, as well as the behaviour of any peers interacting with the focal child during this period. The study examined 1) whether young aggressive children aggress indiscriminately, 2) whether other children were present when there was an incident of peer-victimisation, and 3) to note what the behaviour of these ‘onlookers’ were (active reinforcement, passive reinforcement, defending or ignoring). The results presented indicate that peer victimisation among younger children appears to be less group-led and that there are some differences in peer-victimisation among younger children and bullying as it is reported among middle childhood and adolescence. The implications of this research for our understanding of the development of peer-victimisation and bullying among young children will be discussed.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Peer-victimisation; Preschool; Observation
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > Applied Psychology Research Group
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Last Modified: 16 Nov 2016 11:01

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