The present study takes a broad and nuanced view of gender typicality in normative populations and suggests that this aspect of children’s gender identity might be a fundamental aspect of vulnerability to peer maltreatment. Using a cross-sectional sample from the Southwestern United States, developmental differences were examined in the relations between kindergarten (n = 210, M age = 5.81, 52 % female), second (n = 205, M age = 7.62, 50 % female), and fourth (n = 205, M age = 9.56, 44 % female) grade students’ self-reported similarity to own- and other-gender peers and teacher-reported peer victimization and exclusion. Parents’ reports of children’s own- and other-gender friendships were also examined to test whether friendships would attenuate this relation. We hypothesized (a) lower gender typicality would be associated with higher victimization/exclusion for 2nd and 4th grade children and (b) friendships with own- and other-gender peers, but especially own-gender peers, would moderate the typicality and victimization/exclusion relation, acting as a buffer against victimization/exclusion. Supporting our hypotheses, results indicated developmental differences in the link between gender typicality and victimization/exclusion with a more consistent relation in 2nd and 4th grades. For girls, having other-gender friends moderated the negative relation of other-gender similarity and victimization/exclusion. Own-gender friendships were protective overall for both genders, and other-gender friendships were protective for 4th graders. Our study suggests that gender-related intolerance is a central issue to peer maltreatment and affects more than just those who exhibit the most extreme cases of gender nonconformity and that friendships can provide a buffer against victimization/exclusion.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 22, 2016
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