The Role of Peers in the Linkages Between Harsh Parenting and Mental Health Outcomes Among Adolescents from Families At-Risk

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DOI: 10.1080/10926771.2018.1425789
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Abstract
Harsh parenting is associated with adolescent mental health concerns. Peer relationships also importantly influence adolescent mental health outcomes. Although the direct associations between harsh parenting, peer relationships, and adolescent outcomes have been empirically established, less is known about the extent to which peer relationships mediate the associations between harsh parenting and adolescent outcomes. This study tested the links between harsh parenting, peer relationships, and adolescent outcomes among families at-risk for child maltreatment. With a sample of caregivers and adolescents (n = 218), the results of mediation analyses indicated that peer aggression partially mediated the pathway between harsh parenting and externalizing symptoms of both females and males. Additionally, peer rejection partially mediated the links between harsh parenting and internalizing symptoms of both females and males and peer rejection also was a partial mediator of male externalizing symptoms.
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Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma
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The Role of Peers in the Linkages Between Harsh
Parenting and Mental Health Outcomes Among
Adolescents from Families At-Risk
Morgan Lancaster, Lawrence Jackson, Spencer Youngberg, Michael
Fitzgerald & Lenore M. McWey
To cite this article: Morgan Lancaster, Lawrence Jackson, Spencer Youngberg, Michael Fitzgerald
& Lenore M. McWey (2018): The Role of Peers in the Linkages Between Harsh Parenting and
Mental Health Outcomes Among Adolescents from Families At-Risk, Journal of Aggression,
Maltreatment & Trauma, DOI: 10.1080/10926771.2018.1425789
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2018.1425789
Published online: 30 Mar 2018.
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The Role of Peers in the Linkages Between Harsh Parenting
and Mental Health Outcomes Among Adolescents from
Families At-Risk
Morgan Lancaster, Lawrence Jackson, Spencer Youngberg, Michael Fitzgerald,
and Lenore M. McWey
College of Human Sciences, Family and Child Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
ABSTRACT
Harsh parenting is associated with adolescent mental health
concerns. Peer relationships also importantly influence adoles-
cent mental health outcomes. Although the direct associations
between harsh parenting, peer relationships, and adolescent
outcomes have been empirically established, less is known
about the extent to which peer relationships mediate the
associations between harsh parenting and adolescent out-
comes. This study tested the links between harsh parenting,
peer relationships, and adolescent outcomes among families
at-risk for child maltreatment. With a sample of caregivers and
adolescents (n= 218), the results of mediation analyses indi-
cated that peer aggression partially mediated the pathway
between harsh parenting and externalizing symptoms of
both females and males. Additionally, peer rejection partially
mediated the links between harsh parenting and internalizing
symptoms of both females and males and peer rejection also
was a partial mediator of male externalizing symptoms.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 1 August 2017
Revised 8 December 2017
Accepted 19 December 2017
KEYWORDS
Adolescent; at-risk; harsh
parenting; maltreatment;
mental health; parent; peer
aggression; peers
Adolescent mental health concerns are relevant topics for parents, educators,
and researchers, but the causes of mental health issues are often complex.
Previous research has established the association between adolescent mental
health concerns and harsh parenting (Gershoff, 2002), as well as the link
between these issues and peer relationships (Marion, Laursen, Zettergren, &
Bergman, 2013). Although direct associations between harsh parenting, peer
relationships and adolescent outcomes have been empirically supported, less is
known about the extent to which peer relationships mediate the associations
between harsh parenting and adolescent outcomes. The current study
addresses this gap by testing the links between harsh parenting, peer relation-
ships, and adolescent outcomes among families at-risk for child maltreatment.
Across the literature on adolescent outcomes, internalizing and externa-
lizing symptoms are often used as indicators of mental health (Jager, Yuen,
Putnick, Hendricks, & Bornstein, 2015). According to the DSM-5,
CONTACT Morgan Lancaster lancasterm10@gmail.com Marriage and Family Therapy, Florida State
University, 120 Convocation Way, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1491.
JOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, MALTREATMENT & TRAUMA
https://doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2018.1425789
© 2018 Taylor & Francis
internalizing symptoms are those that have high levels of disinhibition,
psychoticism, and negative affectivity, which include depression, anxiety,
and trauma-stressor-related internal issues, whereas externalizing symp-
toms include disruptive, impulse control, and conduct-related outwardly
behaviors (Regier, Kuhl, & Kupfer, 2013). These externalizing and inter-
nalizing symptoms have been directly correlated with the use of harsh
parenting (Garber, Robinson, & Valentiner, 1997; Kawabata, Alink, Tseng,
Van IJzendoorn, & Crick, 2011), and the risks for adverse outcomes may
be even more prevalent among families in higher-risk contexts (Jones,
Beach, & Forehand, 2001;Steinberg,2001). For instance, with a sample
of 218 families who met specific inclusion criteria for social disadvantage
(e.g., low socioeconomic status, recipients of social service provisions),
researchers found that harsh parenting practices mediated the association
between social disadvantage and child externalizing behaviors (Knutson,
DeGarmo, Koeppl, & Reid, 2005). Another study involving an ethnically
and racially diverse sample of 300 adolescents, Barrera and colleagues
(2002) found an inverse relationship between supportive parenting prac-
tices and adolescent internalizing symptoms. Specific to maltreatment risk,
Garbarino, Sebes, and Schellenbach (1984) divided a sample of 62 families
into two groups: those with a high risk for child maltreatment and those
with a low risk. Adolescents in the high-risk group were more likely to
exhibit externalizing and internalizing symptoms and describe the parent
adolescent relationship as less supportive compared to adolescents in the
low-risk group. Taken together, extant research supports the direct asso-
ciations between harsh parenting practices and youth mental health con-
cerns, but not all youth who experience harsh parenting exhibit the same
outcomes (Lansford, Criss, Pettit, Dodge, & Bates, 2003). Therefore, it is
important to examine additional pathways linking the known associations
between harsh parenting and adolescent outcomes.
Because harsh parenting has generally been associated with adolescent
externalizing (Kawabata et al., 2011) and internalizing symptoms (Garber
et al., 1997), there has been some evidence that suggests that adolescent girls
may be more vulnerable to developing internalizing symptoms compared to
adolescent boys (McCarty et al., 2008). For instance, research suggests that
girls may be more affected by othersnegative evaluations of their academic
competence (Cole & Martin, 1997), relating lower levels of global self-worth
and higher levels of anxious and depressive symptoms compared to boys
(Pomerantz, Saxon, & Altermatt, 2002). Similarly, other studies have
reported depressive symptoms to be more prevalent among girls compared
to boys during the adolescent years (Hankin et al., 1998) and externalizing
problems to be higher among adolescent males (Mrug & Windle, 2009).
More recent research, however, suggests that gender differences in
2M. LANCASTER ET AL.
externalizing and internalizing symptoms may be dissipating, particularly
among adolescents from disadvantaged family contexts (Reiss, 2013).
Mental health concerns have also importantly been linked to peer relation-
ships (Marion et al., 2013). Peer relationships become particularly salient
during adolescence as intimate friendships become more of a focus during
this time (Berndt & Savin-Williams, 1993; Lansford et al., 2003). Indeed,
previous research has documented both the protective benefits and risks
peers provide for those in the adolescent development stage (Jager et al.,
2015). For instance, adolescents with healthy peer relationships are less likely
to demonstrate internalizing symptoms of anxiety and depression (Gaspar,
Barrett, Dadds, & Shortt, 2003) and those who report being more accepted by
their peers have fewer anxiety symptoms (Zimmer-Gembeck & Pronk, 2012).
On the other hand, peer relationships may also lead to more negative
externalizing behaviors such as substance use and risky sexual behavior
when peers are deviant or antisocial (Neppl, Dhalewadikar, & Lohman,
2016). Furthermore, when peers have aggressive or disruptive tendencies,
adolescents who associate with them can sometimes exhibit higher levels of
externalizing symptoms (Mrug & Windle, 2009) often through a process
called peer modeling (Frauenglass, Routh, Pantin, & Mason, 1997).
When unhealthy peer relationships are examined through a gender-
focused lens, some research has suggested that male adolescents may be
more strongly influenced by deviant peers than females. For instance,
research found that boys with poor-quality friendships and high levels of
externalizing symptoms at age 1314 escalated in delinquent behavior over a
two-year period (Poulin, Dishion, & Haas, 1999). Furthermore, boys also
may be more strongly affected by delinquent and substance-using peers than
their female counterparts (Crosnoe, Erickson, & Dornbusch, 2002). Other
studies, however, have found no gender differences in the effects of deviant
peers on aggression, smoking, and other risky behaviors (Espelage, Holt, &
Henkel, 2003; Fuemmeler, Taylor, Metz, & Brown, 2002). Given these mixed
findings, it is important to examine gender as a potential factor in the
relationship between harsh parenting and adolescent outcomes.
Furthermore, parenting style is importantly associated with the ways in
which adolescents are impacted by their peers (De, García-Linares, &
Casanova-Arias, 2014). Some studies suggest that harsh parenting is nega-
tively related to peer acceptance and positively related to peer rejection
(Chen, Dong, & Zhou, 1997; Zhao & Wang, 2010). Parenting characterized
by low levels of affect and high levels of control has also been linked to
problematic adolescent peer interactions due to the expression of aggressive
behavior (Chen et al., 1997; De et al., 2014). Aggressive behavior and other
adolescent externalizing and internalizing symptoms are influenced by par-
enting, further muddying the link between parenting style and peer relation-
ships (De et al., 2014). In some self-report studies, adolescents who described
JOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, MALTREATMENT & TRAUMA 3
their mothers as harsh reported worse interpersonal relationships than those
with mothers with more effective parenting styles (Hall & Bracken, 1996),
and in studies examining the influence of deviant peers, having strong
parental support reduced the likelihood adolescents engaging in externalizing
behaviors (Frauenglass et al., 1997).
Other research has relatedly shown that living in a harsh family environ-
ment is associated with higher levels of peer victimization for children with
few friends (Schwartz, Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 2000) and child maltreatment,
specifically, has been found to be a contributing factor to peer rejection
(King, 2016). Other findings support that harsh parenting is negatively
associated with adolescentsrelationships with peers, leading to feelings of
loneliness regardless of child culture and gender (Scharf, Wiseman, & Farah,
2011). Research also indicates, however, that positive relationships with
parents and peers can mitigate the association between child victimization
and youth internalizing symptoms (Papafratzeskakou, Kim, Longo, & Riser,
2011). Although low cohesion and low adaptability in the family have been
correlated with lower levels of adolescentssocial competence and self-worth,
these associations were not significant for those who had high quality, close
friendships (Gauze, Bukowski, Aquan-Assee, & Sippola, 1996).
In summary, past research has demonstrated the associations between
harsh parenting and adolescent mental health concerns (Gershoff, 2002;
Kawabata et al., 2011); however, less is empirically known about the extent
to which peer relationships mediate the relationships between harsh parent-
ing and adolescent externalizing and internalizing symptoms. The aim of this
study, therefore, was to test the links between harsh parenting, peer relation-
ships, and adolescent outcomes among families at-risk for child maltreat-
ment (see Figure 1). Based on mixed research findings specific to gender
differences in mental health outcomes, the authors separately tested these
pathways for females and males.
Peer
Rejection
Harsh Parenting Adolescent
Outcomes
apaths bpaths
c (c) paths
Peer Aggression
Figure 1. Conceptual model.
4M. LANCASTER ET AL.
Method
Sample and procedures
This study used data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and
Neglect (LONGSCAN). The LONGSCAN was a coordinated project invol-
ving five U.S. study sites (Midwest, South, Southwest, Northwest, Eastern)
and over 1,300 children and families (Runyan et al., 2011). The level of child
maltreatment risk in the LONGSCAN project is intentionally varied.
Specifically, the range of risk spanned participants who were sampled from
pediatric clinics serving low-income families, to parents involved with Child
Protective Services (CPS) due substantiated reports of child maltreatment.
We excluded families recruited from the pediatric clinics (n= 282) in order
to retain a sample that represented higher risk for maltreatment. Children
and their primary caregivers were interviewed by researchers about parental
and family functioning, maltreatment history, social support, and community
factors.
The measures of interest for this study were completed when participants
were 12 years of age (n= 441 at baseline). Only participants with complete
data for externalizing and internalizing symptoms, harsh parenting, and peer
relationships were retained. The final analytic sample for the current study
included 218 parents and children who were 12 years old (SD = .54).
Caregivers were an average of 31 years old and the majority of the sample
achieved a GED (21%, n= 45) or high school diploma (55%, n= 120).
Approximately 40% of the primary caregivers were married (39.4%, n= 86).
Regarding race, 62% (n= 134) were African American and 32% (n= 69) were
Caucasian. Slightly over half of the children were female (56%, n= 123).
Additional demographic characteristics are presented in Table 1.
Measures
Harsh parenting
The Conflict Tactics Scale: Parent to Child (CTSPC; Straus, Hamby,
Finkelhor, Moore, & Runyan, 1998), one of the many assessments adminis-
tered in the LONGSCAN project, was used to assess caregiversreport of
conflict tactics used with their children. The measure included 22 items
assessing the frequency of specific parentchild interactions that occurred
in the past year, such as In the past year, how often have you shouted,
yelled, or screamed [at your child].Items were scored on a scale of 07
(this has never happened,”“once in the past year,”“twice in the past year,
35 times in the past year,”“610 times in the past year,”“1120 times in
the past year,”“over 20 times in the past year,and not in the past year but
it has happened before). For the study sample, the mean score was 64.92
(SD = 47.71; α= .83). The score range for this measure was 0154.
JOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, MALTREATMENT & TRAUMA 5
Externalizing and internalizing symptoms
Youth reported levels of externalizing and internalizing symptoms using
the Youth Self Report (YSR; Achenbach, 1991), another assessment admi-
nistered through the LONGSCAN Project. A total of 113 individual items
were scored on a scale of 02(not true as far as I knowto very true or
often true). Externalizing symptoms involve the delinquent and aggressive
behavior subscales. Internalizing symptoms include subscale scores on
dimensions of social withdrawal, somatic complaints, and the anxiety/
depression subscales. The mean score for externalizing symptoms was
9.29 (SD = 6.5; α= .87) and the mean score for internalizing symptoms
was 10.25 (SD = 7.62; α= .86).
Peer relationships
The Teachers Estimation of Peer Status (TEPS, 7 items) was used to assess
how well the child is liked, the childs social skills in relation to classmates,
and how many peer nominations the child would receive in a given situation.
This assessment was administered as part of the LONGSCAN Project. The
first item asks teachers to rate how well the child is liked on a 5-point Likert-
type scale anchored by 1 = very well liked and 5 = liked very little. Subsequent
items are rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale with the following anchors:
1=one of the kids with the most nominations and 5 = one of the kids with the
fewest nominations. The TEPS yields two subscales reflecting peer aggression
Table 1. Sample demographic characteristics (n= 218).
n%
Mother characteristics
Education*
GED 45 20.6
High school diploma 120 55.0
Vocational school 83 38.1
Associates degree 16 7.3
Bachelors degree 5 2.3
Masters degree 3 1.4
Marital status
Married 86 39.4
Single 86 39.4
Separated 14 6.4
Divorced 29 13.3
Widowed 3 1.4
Race
Caucasian 69 31.7
African American 134 61.5
Hispanic 5 2.3
Other 10 4.5
Child characteristics
Female 123 56.4
Male 95 43.6
*Note: Participants could select more than one category therefore totals exceed 100%
6M. LANCASTER ET AL.
and peer rejection. Items on the aggression scale were reverse scored. Thus,
higher scores on both scales reflect more problematic peer relationships (i.e.,
high aggression, high rejection). The average score for peer aggression in the
current sample was 8.61 (SD = 3.79; α= .85) and the average score for peer
rejection was 9.36 (SD = 2.79; α= .85).
Analyses
Prior to running the main study analyses, descriptive analyses and correla-
tions among variables of interest were explored (see Table 2). Next, multiple
regression analyses were conducted. Finally, bootstrapping mediation ana-
lyses were completed. Bootstrapping, a nonparametric resampling procedure,
has become an increasingly popular way to test for mediation (Preacher &
Hayes, 2008) and involves repeatedly sampling from the dataset and estimat-
ing the indirect effects in each resampled dataset. Bootstrapping does not
require the sample to be normally distributed and tends to have greater
power to assess multiple mediation models and thus reduces the likelihood
for Type 1 error (MacKinnon, Lockwood, & Williams, 2004; Preacher &
Hayes, 2008). Within this study, a series of multiple mediational models were
conducted using the outlined and recommended SPSS macros (Preacher &
Hayes, 2008).
Bootstrapping mediation produces paths of c, a, b, and c,andarean
integral part of interpreting bootstrapping results. The c path in mediation
represents the total effect of an independent variable on a dependent
variable. The a and b paths represent the effect of the independent variable
on the mediating variable and the mediating variable on the dependent
variable, respectively. Finally, the cpath represents the direct effect; in
other words, the cpath indicates what the relationship is between the
independent and dependent variable after the mediating variable is intro-
duced into the model. If the cpath is equal to zero after the mediating
variable has been introduced, complete mediation has been achieved and
the independent variable no longer has an effect on the dependent variable
without the mediating variable in place. If the relationship between the
Table 2. Descriptive statistics and bivariate correlations for study variables.
Variables 1 2 3 4 5
1. Harsh parenting -
2. Externalizing symptoms .24** -
3. Internalizing symptoms .18* .63** -
4. Peer aggression .18* .30** .22** -
5. Peer rejection .15* .31** .32** .23** -
M64.92 10.25 9.29 8.61 9.36
SD 47.71 7.62 6.50 3.79 2.79
p< .05* p< .01**
JOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, MALTREATMENT & TRAUMA 7
independent and dependent variable has been reduced in size but is still
different from zero when the mediating variable is introduced, partial
mediation has been achieved.
Results
The results of bivariate correlations indicated significant and positive asso-
ciations between harsh parenting practices and adolescent externalizing and
internalizing symptoms. Peer aggression and peer rejection were also sig-
nificantly associated with higher adolescent externalizing and internalizing
symptoms. Furthermore, harsh parenting and peer aggression and peer
rejection also were significantly and positively correlated. Next, we conducted
multiple regression analyses to test each component of the mediation models.
The results are presented separately for females and males.
Harsh parenting and mental health symptoms were examined for females.
Results of multiple regression analyses indicated that harsh parenting was posi-
tively associated with female internalizing and externalizing symptoms (see
Table 3). The associations between harsh parenting and peer aggression, and
harsh parenting and peer rejection also were significant. Next, we tested mediation
using the bootstrapping method with 95% bias-corrected confidence intervals (CI;
Preacher & Hayes, 2008). The results of the mediation analyses confirmed that
peer aggression partially mediated the association between harsh parenting and
externalizing symptoms among females. Specifically, when testing the extent to
which peer aggression mediated the link between harsh parenting and female
externalizing symptoms, the values for the cpath were less than the cpath;
however, the cpath remained significant which is an indicator of partial media-
tion. In addition, the 95% bias-corrected CIs did not contain zero, which lends
furthersupportformediation.However,peeraggressionwasnotasignificant
mediator in the link between harsh parenting and internalizing symptoms for
females.
The results were somewhat different for peer rejection. Whereas tests of
mediation specific of peer rejection to externalizing symptoms were not
significant, peer rejection was found to partially mediate the link between
harsh parenting and internalizing symptoms. Tests of peer rejection as a
mediator demonstrated that cpath values were less than cpath values for
internalizing symptoms but the cpath remained significant which again
indicated partial mediation.
Harsh parenting and mental health symptoms was also examined for males.
As was tested with females, multiple regression analyses also were conducted
for males, and results indicated that harsh parenting was positively associated
with both internalizing and externalizing symptoms (see Table 3). The associa-
tions between harsh parenting and peer aggression, and harsh parenting and
peer rejection also were significant. Next, the authors tested mediation using
8M. LANCASTER ET AL.
bootstrapping and results indicated that although peer aggression was not a
significant mediator in the link between harsh parenting and internalizing
symptoms, results confirmed that peer aggression partially mediated the asso-
ciation between harsh parenting and externalizing symptoms. Specifically,
partial mediation was indicated for peer aggression because the link because
the cpath was less than the cpath and the CI did not contain zero.
The results specific to peer rejection as a mediator for males differed
somewhat from the results for females. That is, although peer rejection was
only found to partially mediate associations for internalizing symptoms for
females, among males peer rejection partially mediated the associations
between harsh parenting and both internalizing and externalizing symptoms.
Neither CI contained zero and cpath values were lower than cpath values
and the significant cpath indicated partial mediation.
Table 3. Direct and indirect effects of harsh parenting on adolescent mental health outcomes
through relationships with peers (Females n= 123; males n= 95).
BSE t
Bootstrapped
BC 95% CI
Females
Harsh parenting peer aggression
apath .03 .01 2.93**
bpath internalizing .23 .15 1.53*
cpath internalizing .02 .01 1.98*
cpath internalizing .02 .03 0.67 [-.01, .04]
bpath externalizing .37 .27 1.37*
cpath externalizing .05 .03 1.66*
cpath externalizing .05 .04 1.25* [.01, .03]
Harsh parenting peer rejection
apath .02 .01 2.03**
bpath internalizing .42 .36 1.17*
cpath internalizing .03 .02 1.47*
cpath internalizing .04 .03 1.33* [.01, .04]
bpath externalizing .24 .17 1.43*
cpath externalizing .03 .01 3.07*
cpath externalizing .03 .02 1.52* [-.01, .01]
Males
Harsh parenting peer aggression
apath .02 .01 2.01*
bpath internalizing .18 .12 1.50*
cpath internalizing .01 .01 0.91
cpath internalizing .01 .02 0.45 [-.01, .02]
bpath externalizing .47 .18 4.60**
cpath externalizing .02 .01 2.11*
cpath externalizing .04 .02 2.09* [.01, .03]
Harsh parenting peer rejection
apath .02 .01 2.08*
bpath internalizing .45 .14 3.21**
cpath internalizing .02 .01 2.07*
cpath internalizing .03 .02 1.54* [.01, .03]
bpath externalizing .47 .19 2.47**
cpath externalizing .04 .01 3.95**
cpath externalizing .03 .01 3.01** [.00, .02]
JOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, MALTREATMENT & TRAUMA 9
Discussion
The goal of this study was to determine the extent to which peer aggression
and peer rejection mediated the associations between harsh parenting and
negative mental health symptoms among adolescents from high risk family
contexts. Findings confirmed direct effects previously established in past
research. Specifically, there were significant direct and positive associations
between harsh parenting and externalizing and internalizing symptoms.
Furthermore, the associations between peer aggression, peer rejection, and
adolescent mental health symptoms also were supported. Importantly, results
extend past research by determining the extent to which peer aggression and
rejection mediated these known pathways.
Peer aggression partially mediated the pathway between harsh parenting
and adolescent externalizing symptoms. These results make intuitive sense. If
an adolescent is experiencing both harsh parenting and peer aggression, one
might expect that the youth also may exhibit externalizing (e.g., aggressive)
symptoms. Yet some past research indicates that externalizing symptoms
may be particularly pronounced among males (e.g., Espelage et al., 2003;
Fuemmeler et al., 2002), perhaps leading some to generalize that males tend
to externalize symptoms and females internalize symptoms. Our findings
importantly indicated, however, that these pathways existed for both males
and females alike. Some past research also has found associations between
harsh parenting, aggressive peers, and delinquency of adolescent males
(Dishion, McCord, & Poulin, 1999)and females (Henneberger, Tolan,
Hipwell, & Keenan, 2014). As such, aggressive peers may reinforce an
adolescents externalizing responses to harsh parenting (Dishion et al.,
1999; Lansford et al., 2003) regardless of gender.
Peer rejection also was a significant pathway in the links between harsh
parenting and adolescent internalizing symptoms, regardless of adolescent
gender. These findings also are important. Given risk for serious negative
outcomes associated with untreated internalizing symptoms, such as suicide
risk, it is important to understand that both males and females may experi-
ence anxiety and depression as a result of peer rejection. Indeed, past
research has found that the associations among peer victimization, feelings
of belongingness, and perceived burdensomeness was significant even after
controlling for gender (Wolff et al., 2014).
Finally, peer rejection also partially mediated the association between
harsh parenting and externalizing symptoms of males but not females.
These findings are somewhat consistent with previous research; unhealthy
friendships for males have been previously linked with higher levels of
delinquent behavior (Poulin et al., 1999). One explanation for the finding
that males exhibited both internalizing and externalizing behaviors whereas
only internalizing symptoms were exhibited by females could be related to
10 M. LANCASTER ET AL.
harsh parenting. Perhaps, the forms of harsh parenting directed to males
differ from harsh parenting directed at females. Further research is needed to
test predictors of these differences.
Because previous research has focused on the importance of peer relation-
ships on adolescent development (Berndt & Savin-Williams, 1993; Lansford
et al., 2003), there is less research involving samples of adolescents from
higher risk family contexts. Because harsh parenting has been linked to
negative adolescent outcomes, this study found that peer relationships can
have a direct impact on at-risk youthsmental health. This is important
because it indicates that peer relationships can be an important mechanism
of change, highlighting the benefits that can come from healthy peer support.
Clinicians working with youth deemed at-riskcan capitalize on peer
relationships, promoting healthy relationships as central to adolescent mental
health.
Limitations
This study revealed important findings specific to harsh parenting, peer
relationships and mental health outcomes; however, it is not without limita-
tions. First, because this study was cross-sectional, causation and longitudinal
effects cannot be determined. Future research should examine the extent to
which these pathways are maintained over time. Furthermore, harsh parent-
ing was reported by the adolescentscaregivers. Because reporter bias may
influence caregivers self-appraisals, results specific to harsh parenting were
still significant. Nonetheless, it would be useful to assess both adolescents
and caregiversreport of harsh parenting. Doing so may reveal important
discrepancies. Similarly, peer aggression and rejection were reported by
teachers. Because teacher report of peer aggression and rejection has been
used in past research (Graham et al., 2010; Lauterbach & Armour, 2016), it
may be useful to ask adolescents themselves. Lastly, participants were ado-
lescents and parents of adolescents who were 12 years old; therefore, general-
izing the results to all adolescents may be unfounded, particularly because
internalizing and externalizing symptoms may vary with age.
Despite the limitations, this study makes an important contribution to the
literature. Contrary to gender stereotypes, our findings suggested positive
and significant associations between peer rejection and internalizing symp-
toms of both adolescent males and females. Likewise, both adolescent males
and females exhibited externalizing symptoms when contending with peer
aggression. As such, these results have implications for intervention. When
clinicians are working with adolescents who are expressing externalizing or
internalizing symptoms, it would be worthwhile to explore their family and
social contexts. How have their relationships with their caregivers shaped
these outcomes? In what way has their peer groups influenced their lives?
JOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, MALTREATMENT & TRAUMA 11
Exploring these relationships and working to promote positive family and
peer relationships may be beneficial for youth in higher risk contexts.
Acknowledgments
This document includes data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect
(LONGSCAN), a project funded by the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, U.
S. Department of Health and Human Services (ACYF/DHHS). The data were collected by the
LONGSCAN Consortium and have been provided by the National Data Archive on Child
Abuse and Neglect. The information and opinions expressed herein reflect solely the position
of the author(s). Nothing herein should be construed to indicate the support or endorsement
of its content by ACYF/DHHS.
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  • ... To the current point, there has been less of a focus on how childhood maltreatment is associated with adult's friendships. Much of the existing research investigating the linkages between maltreatment and friendships has focused on children and adolescents (e.g., Lancaster, Jackson, Youngberg, Fitzgerald, & McWey, 2018), which is not surprising given the developmental importance of friendships in childhood and adolescence. Results in adult samples have been mixed. ...
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    Background: Research has established that childhood maltreatment is associated with interpersonal problems across the life course. Less is known regarding how maltreatment is linked with adult’s provision of emotional support to their family members, friends, and romantic partners. Objective: To examine how maltreatment severity is associated with adult’s provisions of emotional support to family members, friends, and romantic partners and examine differences between men and women.Participants and Setting: A sample of 1,255 adults (56% women) was collected between 2005 and 2009. Methods: Data are from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS). Participants completed retrospective survey reports of childhood maltreatment and current provision of emotional support provided to family members, friends, and romantic partners. Results: Using hierarchical regression analysis, childhood maltreatment was negatively associated with provisions of emotional support provided to family members (b = -0.013, p < .05), friends (b = -0.013, p < .05), and romantic partners (b = -0.016, p < .05) above and beyond other childhood adversities, current mental health symptomology, and current stress. Gender moderated the relationship for friends (b = 0.012, p <. 05) and romantic partners (b = 0.015, p < .05) where women provided more emotional support than men while no gender differences in support provided to family members (b = 0.009, p > .05.) Conclusion: Childhood maltreatment contributes to less provision of emotional support to family members, friends, and spouses for both men and women and is particularly detrimental for men. Clinical Implications are discussed.
  • ... Previous studies have also found that bullying perpetration exacerbates suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms later in life (Apter et al. 1995;Apter and Kotler 1991;Kim et al. 2006;Klomek et al. 2013;Rigby and Slee 1999). Researchers point to underlying factors such as impulsivity, anger, victimization, friendship quality, school, and family variables to explain these associations (Apter et al. 1995;Espelage et al. 2018a;Klomek et al. 2013;Lancaster et al. 2018). Further research is needed to understand how aggression affects internalizing symptoms among Latinx youth. ...
  • ... Previous studies have also found that bullying perpetration exacerbates suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms later in life (Apter et al. 1995;Apter and Kotler 1991;Kim et al. 2006;Klomek et al. 2013;Rigby and Slee 1999). Researchers point to underlying factors such as impulsivity, anger, victimization, friendship quality, school, and family variables to explain these associations (Apter et al. 1995;Espelage et al. 2018a;Klomek et al. 2013;Lancaster et al. 2018). Further research is needed to understand how aggression affects internalizing symptoms among Latinx youth. ...
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