Breaking the cycle of peer victimization and maladaptive outcomes among adolescents: building strength through parent, peer, and teacher emotional support

Peer victimization — the experience of being a target of a peer’s hurtful teasing and aggressive behaviour — has major implications for adolescents’ mental health. It’s estimated that 15 to 27 per cent of adolescents are victimized by their peers and approximately 10 per cent of students face severe or chronic victimization by peers. Chronic and frequent victimization experiences can lead to increased levels of depression and anxiety among victimized adolescents and put them at risk for becoming more aggressive over time. Breaking the cycle of peer victimization is a priority; however less is known about the protective factors that will reduce levels of harmful outcomes associated with peer victimization. Rachel Yeung is investigating the associations between peer victimization and emotional and behavioural problems among adolescents across a four-year period. She is examining whether emotional support from parents, peers and teachers can moderate and protect against these harmful outcomes. Yeung will use data taken from a longitudinal Healthy Youth Survey, which followed 664 adolescents in an urban community via individual interviews. Yeung’s findings can support the importance of building existing support systems and fostering new relationships with parents, peers and teachers to prevent long term and negative mental health problems associated with peer victimization. This will also provide a basis for the development of effective prevention programs that aim to break the cycle of peer victimization and its harmful outcomes among older adolescents.