Social-emotional dysfunction in middle school students: The role of anxiety on the experience of peer victimization and eating disorder symptoms
Serwacki, Michelle Lynn
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This study explored the impact of anxiety and its subtypes on the relation between peer victimization and eating disorder risk within an early adolescent sample in the context of the Social Information Processing model. Internalizing factors, such as anxiety, have been identified as consequences of peer victimization and risk factors for eating disorders. Further, there are a number of additional overlapping risk factors, as well as a similar developmental trend, between peer victimization, eating disorder risk, and anxiety. Although research has identified peer victimization as a risk factor to the development of eating disorder symptoms and behaviors, there is little research that explores the mechanism by which this relation occurs. In this study, data were analyzed from 1,391 early adolescent students in order to better understand how these variables are related. Measures used include: the Eating Disorder Inventroy-3, the School Climate and Bullying Scale, and the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children. It was hypothesized that anxiety would mediate the positive relation between peer victimization and eating disorder risk with the largest contributions from two constructs of anxiety, social anxiety and harm avoidance. Results indicated support for partial mediation in which anxiety accounted for a significant portion of the relation between peer victimization and eating disorder risk in both females and males. Social anxiety and physical symptoms were found to contribute most of the variance in this relation, above and beyond the effects of BMI, age, victimization, harm avoidance, and separation/panic anxiety. This study was the first to identify a significant mediating effect of anxiety on peer victimization and eating disorder risk for both genders.