THINKING AND DOING: ATTRIBUTIONS AND COPING OF CHILDREN AND THEIR FRIENDS THAT ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CONTINUITY OF VICTIMIZATION AND BULLYING
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Over the past three decades, childhood bullying research has developed. Although bullying was first understood as an individual problem, researchers now understand that bullying is a relationship problem. Children come to a social exchange with their own cognitions and coping strategies, but are also impacted by their peers. Developmental contextualism forms the macro level framework of these studies and states that change occurs reciprocally and across many levels including the individual, interpersonal, community, and society. Social cognitive theory (and social information processing, in particular) helps at the individual and interpersonal levels in understanding the role cognitions play in affecting children’s responses in social exchanges. The series of papers in this dissertation focus on: (1) How attributions and coping styles interact within victimized children and how that affects victimization; (2) How attributions and coping styles are associated in children who bully others and how that interaction affects bullying behaviour; and (3) How children’s friendships protect or put them at risk for victimization. Overall, results suggest that children’s attributions and coping are directly associated with victimization and bullying, but do not work together in a mediational relationship. Rather specific types of attributions and coping strategies are related to involvement in bullying and victimization both within and across time and differences exist between boys and girls. With regards to friendships, the identity and communication skills of one’s friends appear to be important. Findings suggest the need for interventions that teach victimized children and their friends how to cope effectively with victimization and communicate with each other about their needs.