Bullying and school transition: Context or development?
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The relative impact of school transition versus development on peer victimization and bullying perpetration were examined in a natural experiment involving 698 students where half transitioned into middle school from Grade 5 to Grade 6 and the other half remained in their elementary school over the same period. Results indicated that, on average, peer victimization decreased over the transition period while bullying perpetration remained stable for the whole sample. Multilevel modeling was used to investigate the effects of school transition and sex on changes in victimization and perpetration. Results indicated that the effect of transition status on changes in peer victimization was moderated by sex. Middle school transition status predicted decreases in peer victimization for girls, but not for boys, who transitioned. However, school transition status and participants' sex (and their interaction) did not predict changes in perpetration over time. Our findings indicate that changes in student involvement with peer victimization are better understood as a contextual rather than a typical developmental process, whereas bullying perpetration may be better understood as developmental.
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