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Peers Influence Response to Threat: Cultural Norms, Reciprocity & Identity Processes in the Adolescent Caregiving System

NCJ Number
Date Published
25 pages
Karin S. Frey
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The methodology and findings are presented for a   study with the primary goal of facilitating the development of youths’ constructive responses to perceived threat and aggression by leveraging positive peer influence in a culturally competent manner.


The study was based in a theoretical model that suggests peer influence is most important when youth have been targets of bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Bystanders may defend victims in the moment, encourage or discourage victim retaliation, calm and comfort victims, take revenge on behalf of victims, and help them resolve problems with peers. The current study had five objectives. One objective was to describe what types of peer intervention are considered by youth to be effective. The method for achieving this objective was the use of qualitative methods to code and summarize actions that adolescents take to co-regulate emotions. A second objective was to assess how victimized youth judge and respond to peer actions on their behalf, as well as to assess how youth judge themselves after intervening on behalf of a victimized peer. This objective was met by asking participants how they felt after peers intervened in their victimization. A third objective was to refine and validate a measure of socio-cultural norms relevant to revenge and reconciliation. This was achieved by testing whether adolescents would experience greater pride and benevolent feeling after calming and resolving potential victimizations without anger/violence. The fourth objective was to pilot culturally competent practices for supporting positive youth care-giving efforts. The fifth objective was to initiate the development of useful educational practices based on findings from this study. The outcome of these studies into the behaviors adolescents envision and desire for themselves in responding to peers who are targets of aggression suggests their motivation for receiving guidance and support for such behaviors. 25 references

Date Created: January 25, 2021