Associations between sexual-harassment victimization and aspects of psychopathology are well-established in adolescent research, but links between sexual-harassment victimization and positive aspects of psychological health and the moderating role of relational support in the association between sexual-harassment victimization and psychological health remain unknown. Using a cross-lagged model, we examined (1) the bidirectional and longitudinal links between sexual-harassment victimization and adolescent psychological health (emotional problems and well-being) and (2) the moderating role of relational support from parents, teachers, and peers (best friends and classmates) in the link between sexual-harassment victimization and adolescent psychological health. We used two waves of self-reported data (separated by one year) from 676 Swedish adolescents (50% girls; Mage=13.85 years at point of first data collection). Controlling for the effect of gender and SES, the cross-lagged model revealed that sexual harassment predicted emotional problems positively and well-being negatively. Moreover, well-being predicted sexual harassment negatively. Relational support from classmates moderated the link from sexual-harassment victimization to emotional problems. Relational support did not moderate the link to well-being. The findings provide new and important insights into the role of sexual-harassment victimization in adolescent psychological adjustment and potential approaches to intervention.
Swedish Research Council, FORTE, VINNOVA, Formas.
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