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Attachment characteristics and sexual harassment perpetration and receipt among adolescent peers Wun, Derek

Abstract

This study investigated the association between adolescents' perceived attachments to mothers and fathers and their sexual harassment experiences with peers via attachment characteristics. Using the Sexual Harassment Survey and the Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire, grades eight to twelve students (N= 475, 43.8% male, n = 208; 55.4%) female, n = 263) in a public school in western Canada self-reported on their sexual harassment behaviour and experiences with peers and their perceived current attachments to mothers and fathers. Hierarchical regression analyses, controlling for gender and previous engagement in social-sexual relations, revealed that adolescents' perceptions of mothers' availability was negatively related to perpetrating peer sexual harassment. Adolescents' perceived paternal angry distress showed a positive association to perpetrating this behaviour, however, the interaction between adolescents' perceived paternal angry distress and availability accounted for slightly more variance in the dependent variable than angry distress alone. Finally, adolescents' perceptions of fathers' availability showed a negative relationship to receiving peer sexual harassment. Distinctions between mother-child and father-child interactions throughout childhood and adolescence are discussed as the basis for the differences in results between mothers and fathers. The implications of a parent-adolescent attachment model for understanding the emergence of peer sexual harassment in adolescence are addressed.

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