Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Albert D. Farrell


A mixed-methods approach was used to determine how African-American middle school students cope with peer victimization and to identify factors that inhibit and promote the use of prosocial coping strategies. In a previous study, participants had been categorized into four social clusters: well-adjusted, rejected, passively-victimized, or aggressively-victimized based on a cluster analysis of self-reported psychosocial variables. Interviews with a sub sample of 80 students focusing on identifying both how students thought they would respond and how they thought they should respond to hypothetical situations involving peer victimization were analyzed. Interviews also elicited factors that would support or impede the use of the coping responses generated by the participants. Qualitative analysis identified 15 coping responses that students would use, and categorized each individual response as prosocial, aggressive, or avoidant based on emotional, cognitive, and behavioral criteria. In addition, 13 coping responses were identified as strategies youth thought they should do. Ten supports, and ten barriers to prosocial coping responses were identified, representing a range of internal and interpersonal factors. Results of logistic regression models did not support the central hypothesis that the type of coping response generated (e.g., prosocial, aggressive, avoidant) would depend on social cluster. However, significant gender results were found, suggesting that girls were more likely than boys to identify prosocial coping strategies. Implications for violence prevention programs are discussed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons