Interrelations between adversity and emotion regulation: How does childhood maltreatment influence risk for reciprocal relations between adolescent peer victimization and emotion regulation development?

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Virginia Tech


Adverse experiences (e.g., child maltreatment, peer victimization) have long-term consequences for emotion regulation (ER) development. Adolescents may be particularly susceptible to these effects due to heightened sensitivity to environmental influences as well as the protracted development of the prefrontal cortex, which includes regions responsible for regulatory efforts. Previous research has indicated that difficulties with ER can be both a precursor to and consequence of adverse experiences, such as child maltreatment and peer victimization. As such, the present study evaluated reciprocal relations between dynamic longitudinal changes within repeated measures of peer victimization and ER across adolescence and into young adulthood and to determine how child maltreatment may predispose youths to these issues. The sample included 167 adolescents (53% male, Mage = 14.07 years at Time 1) who participated in a longitudinal study across five time points, with approximately one year between each assessment. First, we used confirmatory factor analyses to test latent factors of child maltreatment (abuse and neglect), peer victimization, and ER. Then, we used latent change score modeling to examine reciprocal relations between peer victimization and ER. Finally, we added child maltreatment (abuse and neglect) as a preceding predictor of reciprocal relations between peer victimization and ER. Our results offer insights toward developmentally informed longitudinal, transactional models linking child maltreatment and developmental changes in peer victimization and ER in adolescence. Findings of associations between peer victimization and ER support social information processing theory (Dodge and Crick, 1990) by suggesting that adolescent difficulties with ER may confer risk for experiences of peer victimization. Finally, child neglect effects on relational peer victimization in adolescence underscore how early contextual environments may impact later social development, with child neglect predicting developmental change in relational peer victimization during adolescence.



abuse, neglect, peer victimization, emotion regulation, adolescence