Teacher-Child Relationship, Child Withdrawal and Aggression in the Development of Peer Victimization
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences / Child Health Promotion Research Centre
The study examined pre-kindergarten teacher-child relationship as a predictor of peer victimization up to first grade, assessed whether this role moderated risks from children's social withdrawal and/or aggression. Participants were 377 Australian children from 12 schools. Parent ratings of victimization in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade were used, as well as prekindergarten self-ratings of parenting. Teacher-ratings of conflict and closeness, child aggression and social withdrawal were collected in pre-kindergarten. Two-part growth curve analyses conjointly modeled the likelihood of being victimized and severity of victimization. Teacher-child conflict in prekindergarten predicted the likelihood of concurrent and first grade victimization; closeness in prekindergarten was protective of more severe victimization over time. Conflict also moderated the relationship between social withdrawal and growth in severity of victimization. Discussion focuses on elucidating the 'invisible hand' of the teacher in peer dynamics, and on interventions for reducing conflict and promoting closeness in the classroom.