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Definitional and behavioral assessments of peer victimization: The role of ethnic
composition and child ethnicity
Amber T....
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NCCCAP Amber Pham FINAL

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  1. 1. Definitional and behavioral assessments of peer victimization: The role of ethnic composition and child ethnicity Amber T. Pham, Freddie A. Pastrana, Juventino Hernandez Rodriguez, James T. Craig, Samantha J. Gregus, & Timothy A. Cavell, Ph.D. University of Arkansas, Department of Psychological Science • Peer victimization is defined as repeated exposure to peer interactions that convey harmful intent, produce harmful effects, and are sanctioned often implicitly by peers (Juvonen & Graham, 2001). • The effects often lead to negative outcomes including depression and anxiety (Card & Hodges, 2008). • Self-report instruments are commonly used to assess peer victimization (Green, Felix, Sharkey, Furlong, & Kras, 2013). • Behavioral measures: Provide children with items related to specific behaviors associated with peer victimization. • Definitional measures: Provide children with a detailed description of peer victimization and inquires about their experience of “being a victim” or “being bullied.” • Children vary in their reporting of peer victimization experiences depending on whether they use a behavioral or definitional measure (Sawyer, Bradshaw, & O’Brennan, 2008). • Saywer et al. (2008) found that overall, children reported peer victimization more via the behavioral measure. • Ethnic minority children reported peer victimization more via the behavioral measure than Caucasian children did. • Ethnicity may play a role in how children report peer victimization • Inconsistent results in the literature whether ethnicity plays a significant role in peer victimization. • Ethnic composition of classroom may influence self-reports of peer victimization (Graham, 2006) • CURRENT STUDY • Extension of Sawyer et al. (2008) comparing children’s endorsement of peer victimization using a definitional versus behavioral approach, identifying ethnic group differences in the reporting of victimization, and evaluating the relation between ethnic composition and children’s use of definitional and behavioral measures. • HYPOTHESES: • Children will report peer victimization more using a behavioral measure. • Ethnicity will play a role in responding, with higher reported rates of victimization in Caucasian children • Ethnic composition will moderate the relationship between ethnicity and the use of definitional vs. behavioral assessments. Card, N. A., & Hodges, E. V. (2008). Peer victimization among schoolchildren: Correlations, causes, consequences, and considerations in assessment and intervention. School Psychology Quarterly, 23(4), 451. Graham, S. (2006). Peer victimization in school: Exploring the ethnic context. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(6), 317-321. Green, J. G., Felix, E. D., Sharkey, J. D., Furlong, M. J., & Kras, J. E. (2013). Identifying bully victims: Definitional versus behavioral approaches. Psychological assessment, 25(2), 651. Juvonen, J., & Graham, S. (Eds.). (2001). Peer harassment in school: The plight of the vulnerable and victimized. Guilford Press. Kochenderfer‐Ladd, B. (2004). Peer victimization: The role of emotions in adaptive and maladaptive coping. Social Development, 13(3), 329-349. Sawyer, A. L., Bradshaw, C. P., & O'Brennan, L. M. (2008). Examining ethnic, gender, and developmental differences in the way children report being a victim of “bullying” on self-report measures. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43(2), 106-114. Solberg, M. E., & Olweus, D. (2003). Prevalence estimation of school bullying with the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. Aggressive behavior, 29(3), 239-268. BACKGROUND DISCUSSION ANALYSES • Pearson’s Chi-Square tests were used for primary analyses. 1) Overall, do children report victimization more via the definitional approach or the behavioral approach? • Children endorsed victimization significantly more via the definitional approach. • * = % within all children • n = number of children who met the threshold for peer victimization. 2) Does ethnicity play a role in how children reported peer victimization? A. By assessment approach: • Definitional: Caucasian children endorsed victimization significantly more than ethnic minority children. • * = % within children’s own ethnic group (e.g., Caucasian, Ethnic Minority) • Behavioral: Within their own ethnic group, a higher percent of Caucasian children endorsed victimization than ethnic minority children. • * = % within children’s own ethnic group (e.g., Caucasian, Ethnic Minority) B. By ethnic group: • Ethnic minority: Children were more likely to report victimization using the definitional measure. • * = % within total ethnic minority children • Caucasian: Children were more likely to report victimization using the definitional measure. • * = % within total Caucasian children 3) Does a classroom’s ethnic composition play a role in how children define peer victimization using behavioral and definitional measures? • By assessment approach: A. Definitional: Children did not differ in endorsing victimization when comparing across three distinct ethnic distribution groups. • * = % within children meeting criteria for self-reported victimization via OBVQ RESULTS PARTICIPANTS & PROCEDURES • 659 fourth grade students from 10 elementary schools in Northwest Arkansas • Girls (51.2% of sample) • Hispanic/Latino children (42.3% of sample) • Classrooms’ ethnic percentages: Calculated by transforming the percentage of ethnic minority children per class into a categorical variable with 3 levels • Higher Ethnic Minority (n = 411; 60.7%) • Even ethnic distribution (n = 175; 25.8%) • Higher Ethnic Majority (n = 67; 9.9%) MEASURES • Definitional Measure: Adapted version of the global item from the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire (OBVQ; Solberg & Olweus, 2003) inquired the frequency of being bullied in the past couple of months. Responses were dichotomized using the recommended cutoff (“2 to 3 times per month”). • Behavioral Measure: Adapted version of the School Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ; Ladd & Kochenderfer-Ladd, 2004). The questionnaire had 9 items, 3 each for physical, verbal, and relational victimization. Item scores were aggregated to form a mean score, then dichotomized (does child meet or surpass a mean score above the “sometimes” threshold). METHOD • Children’s experiences via self-report measures vary depending on the methodology and approach used to assess them. • The sample appeared more likely to endorse peer victimization with a definitional measure than a behavioral measure. • It is possible that meeting a specific criterion threshold in 1 global item is easier than meeting a mean score threshold across 9 items. • The methodology used to analyze the behavioral measure may have not been optimal (i.e., dichotomizing the behavioral mean score). • Ethnicity appears to play a role in how children report peer victimization, with Caucasian children endorsing higher levels of victimization—consistent with other studies on ethnic differences. • Ethnicity did not moderate the use of behavioral or definitional assessments (Caucasian children endorsed higher levels via both) • Classroom’s ethnic composition does not seem to moderate reports of peer victimization via behavioral or definitional assessments. • Other variables (e.g. religion, socioeconomic status) may play a part in children’s responding on self-reported victimization. REFERENCES n %* X2 p Definitional 160 23.9 128.15 .001 Behavioral 64 9.6 n %* X2 p Caucasian 59 29.2 4.525 .033 Ethnic Minority 98 21.5 n %* X2 p Caucasian 27 13.4 4.88 .027 Ethnic Minority 36 7.9 n %* X2 p Definitional 98 21.5 59.43 .001 Behavioral 36 7.9 n %* X2 p Definitional 59 29.2 60.56 .001 Behavioral 27 13.4 B. Behavioral: Children did not differ in endorsing victimization when comparing across three distinct ethnic distribution groups. • * = % within children meeting criteria for via SEQ n %* X2 p Ethnic Minority > 40 9.8 2.08 .353 Ethnic = 18 10.3 Ethnic Minority < 3 4.5 n %* X2 p Ethnic Minority > 101 24.8 2.41 .299 Ethnic = 45 26.0 Ethnic Minority < 11 16.7

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