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A Cross-National Comparison of Aggressors, Victims and Defenders in Preschools in England, Spain and Italy

  • Claire P. Monks (a1), Annalisa Palermiti (a2), Rosario Ortega (a3) and Angela Costabile (a2)

There is a small, but growing, body of research investigating peer-victimisation between preschoolers, an age which has been identified as being important both theoretically and practically for the development of interventions. This study compares aggressive and defending behaviour and victim status of preschoolers in three European countries; England, Spain and Italy. The results provide further confirmation that some children behave aggressively towards their peers during preschool in each of the countries studied. There are similarities between preschool children involved in peer-victimisation in the three countries in terms of the roles taken, sex differences and the types of aggressive behaviours used and experienced by the children. There were differences in the profiles of children identified as taking the roles by teachers and peers. Overall, it was found that those children identified by peers or teachers as being aggressive were more likely to be male, rated as physically strong and more likely to be rejected by classmates. Also, in general, the targets of peer-victimisation differed depending on the reporter. Peer-nominated victims were not identifiable in terms of gender, popularity or physical strength. Teacher-nominated victims were more likely to be socially rejected and physically weak. There are several subtle differences between the countries which deserve further investigation. The findings are discussed in relation to furthering our understanding of the development of peer-victimisation in preschools and the need for interventions which address this phenomenon.

En la actualidad existe un pequeño, aunque creciente, cuerpo de investigación científica referida a la victimización entre preescolares, edad identificada como de gran importancia tanto teórica como práctica para el desarrollo. Este estudio compara las conductas de agresión y defensa con el estatus social de grupo en muestras de preescolares de tres países europeos: Inglaterra, España e Italia. Los resultados aportan evidencia de comportamiento agresivo de unos escolares hacia otros en cada uno de los países estudiados. Hay similitudes entre los preescolares victimizados por sus iguales en los tres países estudiados en términos de los roles adoptados, el sexo, el tipo de agresión ejecutada y padecida, así como en la identificación que realizan los compañeros sobre los roles jugados. Se encontraron diferencias en identificación y atribución de roles, realizada por los maestros y por los iguales. Y sobre todo, se ha encontrado que los preescolares identificados por sus iguales o por sus maestros como agresores tienden a ser varones, valorados como físicamente más fuertes y con mayor tendencia a ser rechazados por sus compañeros de aula. Pero en general, la elección del preescolar objeto de agresión por sus iguales, parece depender de quién haga la nominación. La nominación como víctimas de sus iguales no parece identificable en términos de género, popularidad y desarrollo físico. Los maestros tienden a nominar como víctimas de sus compañeros a preescolares a los que perciben como socialmente rechazados y físicamente débiles. Hemos encontrado diferencias entre países que requieren investigación confirmatoria. Los resultados se discuten en relación a la necesidad de una mayor comprensión de la victimización entre iguales en los años preescolares para una más idónea intervención del fenómeno.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Claire P. Monks. Department of Psychology and Counselling. University of Greenwich. Avery Hill Campus. Southwood Site. Avery Hill Road. Eltham. London SE9 2UG. (UK). Phone: +44(0)2083319584. Fax: +44(0)208331916. E-mail:
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