Children's Peer Victimization, Empathy, and Emotional Symptoms

Malti, Tina ; Perren, Sonja ; Buchmann, Marlis

In: Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 2010, vol. 41, no. 1, p. 98-113

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    This study investigated the concurrent and longitudinal relations among children's peer victimization, empathy, and emotional symptoms. The sample consisted of 175 children (85 girls, mean age=6.1years) recruited from kindergartens in Switzerland and followed for 1year (Time 2). Parents and teachers reported on the children's emotional symptoms, empathy, and victimization. Children reported their empathy and victimization experiences. Peer victimization was a predictor of emotional symptoms at Time 1; this association was stronger for children with average or high levels of empathy. Increases in peer victimization predicted increases in boys' emotional symptoms, and increases in victimization were related to decreases in empathy. The results emphasize the role of negative peer relations and children's social-emotional information processing for the development of emotional symptoms