Publication Date

2012-06-20

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2012-06-20

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2012-04-24

First Committee Member

Annette M. La Greca

Second Committee Member

Monica Webb Hooper

Third Committee Member

Alan M. Delamater

Abstract

Peer victimization (PV) is a salient interpersonal stressor that has been linked with a variety of mental and physical health outcomes in adolescence. However, limited research has focused on the links between PV and substance use, specifically cigarette and alcohol use. The present study examined the relationship between four subtypes of PV (overt, relational, reputational, and cyber) and adolescent cigarette and alcohol use. Gender and peer aggression were also examined as potential moderators. Participants were 811 adolescents aged 13 to 19 years (M = 15.79 years; SD = 1.21), who were recruited from two high schools in the Miami-Dade County Public School system. Adolescents completed the Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire, the Cyber Victimization Scale for Adolescents, and items from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Results indicated that aggressive boys who reported high levels of overt PV and aggressive boys who reported low levels of relational PV were most likely to report greater cigarette use. Overtly victimized youth were more likely to report a higher frequency of drinking and binge drinking. Cyber victimization represented a risk factor for all health risk behaviors. Findings suggest important targets for prevention and intervention efforts to reduce cigarette and alcohol use among youth. Peer-based interventions that address issues related to PV may be important in reducing adolescent substance use.

Keywords

peer victimization; cyber victimization; substance use; adolescents

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