Protective factors among peer harassed adolescent girls : implications for body dissatisfaction and eating problems / by Jennifer M. McFarlane.
McFarlane, Jennifer Margaret
SubjectBody image in adolescence
Sexual harassment in education
Eating disorders in adolescence
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The first goal of the present study was to examine two forms of peer harassment, appearance teasing and sexual harassment, by male and female peers, as they relate to body dissatisfaction and eating problems in young adolescent girls. The second goal was to assess whether social support, intelligence and coping style functioned as protective variables (moderators) in the relationship between peer harassment and both body dissatisfaction and eating problems. The Peer Harassment Inventory and the Coping with Peer Harassment Inventory, both developed for this study, along with questionnaires that assessed body dissatisfaction, eating problems, selfesteem, depression, social support, and intelligence were administered to 383 females in grades 6, 7, and 8. Questionnaires were completed during regular class periods and took approximately 60 minutes. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that after accounting for the effects of physical characteristics, appearance teasing by both male and female peers was predictive of body dissatisfaction, accounting for 28% of the variance. A combination of physical characteristics, peer harassment, and protective variables accounted for 62% of the variance in body dissatisfaction. In the prediction of eating problems, appearance teasing and sexual harassment by male peers accounted for 30% of the variance beyond the effects of physical characteristics. A combination of physical characteristics, peer harassment, protective variables, body dissatisfaction, and psychological distress accounted for 55% of the variance in eating problems. Social support appeared to moderate the negative impact of boy harassment on eating problems, whereas a tendency to appraise boy harassment more negatively was associated with increased eating problems. These findings are discussed in terms of implications for prevention strategies.