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Navigating the social world: the role of social competence, peer victimisation and friendship quality in the development of social anxiety in childhood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume60
Early online date15 Sep 2018
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2018

King's Authors

Abstract

Social and communication (SC) difficulties predict increased social anxiety (SA) symptoms in childhood. Peer victimisation and friendship quality are commonly associated with both SC difficulties and SA. Based on this, we tested for a cascade effect of early SC difficulties, peer victimisation and friendship quality on SA in late childhood, using a population-based sample of 8,028 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) cohort. Parent-reported data were collected on SC difficulties at age 7 and SA at age 7, 10 and 13. Child-reported data on peer victimisation and friendship quality were collected at age 8. Our results revealed that SC difficulties predict increased negative friendship qualities and peer victimisation. Relational victimisation predicted increased SA symptoms at 13 years old. Neither overt nor relational victimisation mediated the developmental relationship between SC difficulties and SA. Furthermore, friendship quality did not moderate the developmental relationship between SC difficulties and SA. In addition, no sex differences were observed. The evidence demonstrates that peer victimisation and friendship quality do not explain why some children with SC difficulties go on to develop SA. Future research clarifying the complex etiological pathways contributing towards the development of SA in childhood and adolescence is warranted.

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