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Peer victimization, depressive symptoms and non-suicidal self-injury behavior in Chinese migrant children: the roles of gender and stressful life events

Authors Wang Q, Liu X

Received 10 May 2019

Accepted for publication 23 July 2019

Published 13 August 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 661—673


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Quanquan Wang, Xia Liu

Institute of Developmental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Background: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) has become a worldwide health concern, especially for the disadvantaged group such as Chinese rural-to-urban migrant children. Peer victimization is a risk factor for NSSI and is quite common among Chinese migrant children. However, few studies that focused on this group have paid attention to the relationship between peer victimization and NSSI. The current study addressed this gap in the literature by examining the mediating role of depressive symptoms and the moderating role of stressful life events in the relationship between peer victimization and NSSI in male and female migrant children.
Methods: A total of 650 migrant children completed self-report surveys that addressed peer victimization, NSSI, depressive symptoms, and stressful life events.
Results: Results showed that peer victimization was significantly related to NSSI for both migrant girls and boys. Depressive symptoms mediated the relationship between peer victimization and NSSI among girls, but not among boys. Additionally, stressful life events significantly moderated the relationships between depressive symptoms and NSSI and between peer victimization and NSSI among girls; higher levels of depressive symptoms or peer victimization coupled with more stressful life events related to a higher probability of NSSI. For boys, stressful life events moderated the relationship between peer victimization and NSSI; higher levels of peer victimization combined with increased NSSI behaviors among the boys who reported more stressful life events.
Conclusions: These findings contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms that inform the relationship between peer victimization and NSSI. Moreover, they indicate that future interventions can be enhanced by targeting depressive symptoms among girls and stressful life events among both girls and boys.

Keywords: peer victimization, non-suicidal self-injury, depressive symptoms, stressful life events, gender, Chinese migrant children

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