A latent class approach to examining forms of peer victimization

Catherine P. Bradshaw, Tracy E. Waasdorp, Lindsey M. O'Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


There is growing interest in gender differences in the experience of various forms of peer victimization; however, much of the work to date has used traditional variable-centered approaches by focusing on scales or individual forms of victimization in isolation. The current study explored whether there were discrete groups of adolescents who experience distinct forms of peer victimization by bullying (e.g., physical, verbal, relational) among middle and high school-age youth, and whether membership in a particular victimization group was associated with internalizing problems and aggression. Latent class analyses examining 10 different forms of victimization were conducted on a diverse sample of middle school (n = 11,408) and high school (n = 5,790) students. All forms of victimization were less common among high school students, except cyberbullying and sexual comments/gestures. The analyses revealed that there were 4 distinct victimization patterns for middle school students (Verbal and Physical; Verbal and Relational; High Verbal, Physical, and Relational; and Low Victimization/Normative), whereas high school students fell into a similar pattern with the exception of a Verbal and Physical class. These patterns of victimization were functionally associated with co-occurring internalizing problems and aggression. There were also some notable gender and developmental differences in the pattern of victimization and its relation with adjustment problems. These findings enhance our understanding of the complex patterns of peer victimization that are experienced by middle and high school students. Implications for educational researchers and school-based bullying interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-849
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • Bullying
  • Gender differences
  • Latent class analysis
  • Peer victimization
  • Relational aggression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Education


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