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Peer Victimization and Adolescent Adjustment: Does School Belonging Matter?

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Recent research highlights the role of peer victimization in students' adjustment across a variety of domains (e.g., academic, social), but less often identifies potential mediating variables. In the current study, we tested for direct effects from peer victimization to adolescents' academic behavior and alcohol use, as well as indirect effects through school belonging. Adolescents from two large samples (middle school: N = 2,808; high school: N = 6,821) self-reported on peer victimization, school belonging, academic outcomes (GPA, school truancy), and alcohol use (lifetime, past 30 days). Two-group structural equation models revealed (a) direct and indirect paths from peer victimization to academic functioning; (b) indirect, but not direct, effects through school belonging for lifetime drinking; and (c) direct and indirect effects from peer victimization to current drinking. Findings implicate school belonging as a mediator between peer victimization and important outcomes in adolescence.

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