Early puberty, peer victimization, and internalizing symptoms in ethnic minority adolescents

Erum Nadeem, Sandra Graham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


One thousand twenty-four African American and Latino sixth graders participated in a study examining the moderating role of pubertal development on the relation between peer victimization and adolescent self-worth, depressed mood, and physical symptoms using peer and self-reported victimization. It was hypothesized that early-maturing girls who were victimized would experience heightened internalized distress. Among boys, two competing hypotheses were tested: (a) the imbalance of power hypothesis predicted that late-maturing boys who were victimized would experience more psychological distress and (b) the social misfit hypothesis predicted that early-maturing victims would experience more distress. Results indicated that African American and Latino early-maturing boys and girls who were viewed as victims by their peers reported elevated depressed mood and physical symptoms and lower self-worth. The moderating role of early puberty was documented with reputational (peer report) measures of victimization rather than self-report measures, which highlights the social consequences of early maturation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-222
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


  • Ethnicity
  • Internalizing symptoms
  • Peer victimization
  • Puberty


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