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Valerie S. Faure, Alison A. Papadakis, Ph.D., Beth A. Kotchick, Ph.D., Rachel L. Grover, Ph.D.

Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Early Adolescents: Implications for the Dual Experience of Overt and Relational Victimization and Aggression

During the 2007 school year, 32% of students between ages 12-18 reported being victims of bullying (Dinkes et al., 2009). These social experiences can have serious adverse effects on victims as well as perpetrators (bullies), such as depression, suicidality, low self-esteem, loneliness, decreased academic functioning, and poorer relationships with peers (Rigby, 2003). Adolescents who are both bullies and victims (bully-victims) reported the highest levels of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) and depression when compared to non-involved individuals (Ozdemir & Stattin, 2011). Overt bullying involves physical aggression and victimization while relational bully involves verbal aggression and victimization. Studies have also not yet assessed the negative impact of bully-victims experiencing multiple types of victimization. There is a link between peer victimization and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) such that individuals who experiencing peer victimization are more likely to engage in NSSI (Adrian et al., 2010; Barker et al., 2008). While NSSI is of concern on its own, adolescents engaging in NSSI also have high rates of suicide attempts, completed suicide, and depression, indicating that it is an important outcome to investigate (Fergusson, Horwood, Ridder & Beautrais, 2005; Nock et al., 2006).

The aim of the proposed study is to examine if adolescents’ status as a bully, victim, or bully-victim of either or both relational and overt aggression is associated with greater involvement in NSSI behaviors. This study will specifically examine different combinations of bullying and victimization statuses across overt victimization and relational victimization to see if those involved in multiple types of aggression are at higher risk for NSSI. By examining combinations of bullying and victimization status for overt and relational victimization with a specific focus on NSSI, we may learn which students are at the greatest risk for engaging in NSSI, and in turn, develop interventions that are directed towards these individuals.

The data for this archival study were collected as part of a larger research project, the Getting Along with Peers Project (GAPP), which was a collaboration between Loyola University Maryland and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland. GAPP participants completed a series of surveys, including: the Children’s Social Behavior Scale – Self-Report (CSBS-S), the Social Experience Questionnaire – Self-Report (SEQ-SR), and the Functional Assessment of Self-Mutilation (FASM). Data from these three measures will be used in the proposed study to examine the association between relational victimization (RV), overt victimization (OV), and nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), respectively. Of the 143 remaining students, 75 (52.44%) were male and 68 (47.55%) were female. The sample included 46 (32.17%) 6th, 46 (32.17%) 7th, and 51 (35.66%) 8th grade students. The participants’ ages ranged from 10 to 14 years old (M = 12.51, SD = 0.94).

The study hypotheses will be tested with a 4 x 4 factorial ANOVA model. As described above, participants will be classified as bullies, victims, bully-victims, or not involved peers for both relational and physical aggression. The ANOVA model will include the main effect of overt victimization/aggression status, main effect of relational victimization/aggression status, and the interaction of overt victimization/aggression status and relational victimization/aggression status.

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