Predictive abilities of peer victimization, externalizing behaviors, and internalizing symptoms: problem solving as a moderator
Research has indicated that externalizing behaviors (i.e. hyperactivity, aggression, conduct problems) and internalizing symptoms (i.e. anxiety, depression, somatization) are predictive of peer victimization, with evidence for these reverse predictive pathways existing, as well. The current study explored these bidirectional relationships across two time points, with an emphasis on problem solving strategies (i.e. verbal assertion, help seeking) as moderators. To date, no study has examined the potential of verbal assertion and help seeking to minimize future negative outcomes. Eight cross-lagged autoregressive models were estimated, with parent reported and teacher reported behaviors examined separately. Findings indicated that verbal assertion protected children high on internalizing behavior evident in the home setting from future peer victimization, and also protected victimized children from later development of parent-rated internalizing behavior. Further, results suggested that verbal assertion exacerbated victimized children's development of parent reported externalizing behavior. Clinical implications are discussed.