Encounters with aggressive peers in early childhood: Frequency, age differences, and correlates of risk for behavior problems.

Sinclair, J. J., Pettit, G. S., Harrist, A. W., Dodge, K. A., & Bates, J. E. (1994). Encounters with Aggressive Peers in Early Childhood: Frequency, Age Differences, and Correlates of Risk for Behaviour Problems. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 17(4), 675–696.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/016502549401700407

Abstract: The primary goal of the present study was to describe the range, types, and quality (in terms of exposure to aggressive peers) of social activity settings in which young children typically have contact with peers. We also examined whether participation in these settings varied as a function of child sex and age, and family demographic characteristics. Subjects were 277 preschoolaged children. On the basis of detailed accounts of their mothers, activity setting measures were derived separately for ages 2-4 years (era 1) and ages 4-5 years (era 2). Each of seven activity settings (e.g. neighbourhood, day care, organised playgroups) was rated for frequency of participation and frequency of exposure to aggressive peers. Children had the greatest amount of peer contact and were exposed to aggressive peers most often in the neighbourhood setting. In contrast, children participated least frequently in structured playgroup settings, and these settings were least likely to contain aggressive peers. Children from lower SES and single-parent families were more likely to be involved in settings (especially neighbourhoods) containing aggressive peers. These findings suggest that one mechanism through which risk for behaviour problems among children in lower SES and single-parent families may operate is increased exposure to activity settings in which aggression occurs regularly.