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Factors Associated with Peer Aggression and Peer Victimization Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Children with Other Disabilities, and Children Without a Disability

Mallory, Sarah B.

Peer aggression can take the form of physical hostility, adverse peer pressure, teasing, shunning, and social rejection (Little, 2002). Repeated acts of peer aggression are considered peer victimization and affect children with disabilities more often than children with no reported disabilities or psychiatric disorders (Baumeister, Storch, & Geffken, 2008; Pittet, Berchtold, Akre, Michaud & Suris, 2011). Personal characteristics and contextual factors have been linked to higher rates of peer aggression and the presence of peer victimization (Baumeister, et al., 2008; Bejerot & Morthberg, 2009; Boivin, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 1999; Hodges, Boivin, Vitaro, & Bukowski, 1999; Mishna, 2003). Youth who have experienced peer victimization have been found to suffer consequent loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and suicidal ideation (Bond, Carlin, Thomas, Rubin, & Patton, 2001; Hawker & Boulton, 2000; Hunter, Boyle & Warden, 2007; Siegal, La Greca, & Harrison, 2009). The present study used a caregiver survey to investigate experiences of peer aggression and peer victimization, as well as factors linked to such victimization among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), with other disabilities (OD), and without disabilities (WD). The main analyses addressed five sets of research questions. The first three research questions pertained to all three groups of participants and (1) compared rates of peer aggression and the proportion of children who experienced peer victimization between the ASD, OD and WD groups, (2) asked which personal factors were associated with peer aggression and peer victimization, and (3) asked which personal factors best predicted peer aggression and peer victimization. The last two research questions pertained to the ASD and OD groups only (disability group) and asked (1) which personal factors and contextual factors were associated with peer aggression and peer victimization, and (2) which personal factors and contextual factors best predicted peer aggression and peer victimization. The main analyses indicated that children with ASD and OD experienced significantly greater rates of peer aggression than peers in the WD group. Additionally, the ASD and OD groups of children were more likely to experience peer victimization than the WD group.Peer aggression was correlated with autistic traits, anxious/depressed, withdrawn/depressed, thought problems, and attention problems. A multiple regression analysis indicated that the variable of anxious/depressed was the only variable that significantly contributed to the model and it accounted for approximately one-third of the variance. Caregivers whose children experienced peer victimization reported significantly higher scores in autistic characteristics, anxious/depressed, withdrawn/depressed, thought problems, and attention problems. A forward logistic regression analysis indicated that anxious/depressed was the only variable that predicted peer victimization. The multiple regression and forward logistic regression models produced for the combined ASD and OD group were similar to the models produced during the prior analyses for all three groups. Anxious/depressed was the only variable that significantly contributed to the multiple linear regression and forward logistic regression models. Contextual variables were not correlated with peer aggression or associated with peer victimization and they did not significantly contribute to the regression models.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Intellectual Disabilities-Autism
Thesis Advisors
Hickson, Linda
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 18, 2014
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