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Emotion and coping in young victims of peer-agression

Hunter, Simon C. and Boyle, James and Warden, David (2006) Emotion and coping in young victims of peer-agression. In: Stress and anxiety - Application to Health, Community, Workplace and Education. Cambridge Scholar Press, Cambridge.

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Abstract

Peer-aggression and peer-victimization have been the subject of considerable research interest over the past quarter century. There has been a focus on perpetrators of violence and aggression, based upon the belief that clarification of group and individual processes underpinning aggression will lead to effective intervention and prevention strategies. However, while it is unrealistic to hope that we can completely eradicate aggression, only by clarifying why children and young people respond in certain ways when confronted by peer-aggression can we effectively and efficiently help them to help themselves. In this way, young people can be taught resilience and practical coping skills which will help them to deal with peer-aggression when it occurs, and they can also be helped to more effectively manage emotional reactions when involved in ongoing peer-victimization. Transactional coping theory (Lazarus, 1999) provides an excellent framework for clarifying the important pathways leading to individual differences in emotional reactions and the use of coping strategies by children and young people. In the present chapter, we review the research with victims of peer-aggression which has touched on these questions, and follow this with review of relevant studies from the stress and coping literature which shed light on the relationships between appraisals, emotions and coping strategies. We also report results from a study of our own examining these variables in a sample of children and adolescents experiencing peer-aggression, and draw conclusions for theory and practice based upon these.