Relational victimization and elementary schoolchildren’s risk-taking behavior: Impact of the classroom norm toward risk-taking

Jacintha Tieskens, J. Marieke Buil, Susanne Koot, Pol van Lier

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The association between relational victimization and risk-taking development in children is understudied. Also, it is not clear how the social classroom norm may affect this link. The aim of this study was, therefore, to investigate the link between relational victimization and risk-taking behavior in elementary schoolchildren, and the potential moderating role of the classroom norm salience toward risk-taking. We expected that relationally victimized children would show an increase in risk-taking behavior in classrooms that are unfavorable toward risk-taking as a way to provoke and act against the classroom norm. However, alternatively, relationally victimized children could show an increase in risk-taking behavior in classrooms that are favorable toward risk-taking as a way to fortify the feeling of belonging to the classroom. Participants were 1,009 children (50% boys) in 69 classrooms of 13 mainstream elementary schools, followed annually across ages 7–11 (Grade 1–5). Risk-taking was assessed using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task. Relational victimization was assessed using teacher reports. The classroom norm salience toward risk-taking was based on the within-classroom correlation of risk-taking with children’s social preference score among peers. Results from multilevel modeling showed that there was no significant main effect of relational victimization on risk-taking behavior. However, the classroom norm salience toward risk-taking significantly moderated the effect of relational victimization on risk-taking. Relational victimization was related to relative increases in risk-taking when classroom norms were unfavorable toward risk-taking. In classrooms where risk-taking was favored, relational victimization was related to relative decreases in risk-taking. These findings suggest that children who are relationally victimized may engage in norm-defying behavior in their classroom. Implications for further research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Oct 2019

Keywords

  • classroom norm salience
  • Elementary schoolchildren
  • relational victimization
  • risk-taking

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