Preadolescent peer status, aggression, and school adjustment as predictors of externalizing problems in adolescence.
The comparative effectiveness of preadolescent aggressive behavior, peer rejection, and school functioning were evaluated in the prediction of adolescent delinquency and school maladjustment. Fifth-grade children (n = 112, 69% white, 53% male, M = 11 years old) were followed forward for 7 years until the end of high school. Rejected children were more likely to have a nonspecific negative outcome and more types of negative outcomes than average, popular, or neglected children, particularly among the white students. However, in regression models containing sex, race, aggression, frequent school absences, low grades, and rejection, the only significant predictor of juvenile delinquency or of a nonspecific negative outcome was aggression toward peers. Both aggression and frequent school absences were significant predictors of early school withdrawal. Analyses for the white children in the sample revealed that both rejection and aggression best predicted to the nonspecific negative outcome, whereas aggression alone best predicted to school dropout and to having one or more police contacts. Implications for future longitudinal outcome research and for risk-group identification in racially heterogeneous samples are discussed.
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