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Childhood trajectories of peer victimization and prediction of mental health outcomes in mid-adolescence: A longitudinal population-based study

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Marie Claude Geoffroy, Michel Boivin, Louise Arseneault, Johanne Renaud, Léa, C Perret, Gustavo Turecki, Michel Gregory, Julie Salla, Frank Vitaro, Mara Brendgen, Richard E. Tremblay, Sylvana M. Cote

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E37-E43
JournalCanadian Medical Association Journal
Issue number2
Accepted/In press10 Jul 2017
Published15 Jan 2018


King's Authors


Background: Exposure to peer victimization is not an uncommon experience. However, little is known about its developmental course and its impact on impairment associated with mental illnesses. We aimed to identify groups of children following differential trajectories of peer victimization from ages 6 to 13y and to examine their predictive associations with mental health in adolescence.
Methods: Participants included members of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, a prospective cohort of children born in 1997/98 who were followed up until 15y of age (2015). We included 1,363 participants with self-reports on victimization from ages 6 to 13y and mental health at 15y. Results: Three trajectories of peer victimization were identified. There were two prevailing groups; little or moderately exposed (26.2% for none/low; 59.3% for moderate), and a third group; the severe group (14.5%) exposed to the most severe and chronic levels of victimization over time. The most severely victimized individuals had higher odds of having debilitating depression/dysthymia (odds ratio=2.56, 95% CI=1.27,5.17) and generalized anxiety problems (3.27, 1.64,6.51), and suicidality (3.46, 1.53,7.81) at 15y than those exposed to the lowest levels, after adjusting for sex, childhood mental health, family hardship and victimization perpetration. Association with suicidality remains significant after controlling for concurrent depression/dysthymia and generalized anxiety problems. Interpretation: Adolescents who were the most severely victimized have an increased risk of developing significant mental health problems. As peer victimization trajectories are established early on, interventions to reduce risk of being victimized should start before enrollment in the formal school system.

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