The role of socioeconomic differences and material deprivation in peer violence

Vesna Bilic


In schools around the world in the 21st century the dominant and worrying problems are: an increase in the number of poor and financially and materially deprived and a continuous increase in violence among peers, which brings us to the intriguing question whether there is a connection between these two phenomena. Therefore, the theoretical part of this paper analyzes the increase of peer violence in the context of socioeconomic inequalities of different societies which students live in and socioeconomic family factors.
The aim of the empirical part is to determine which variables of socioeconomic status and material deprivation of children predict the status of perpetrators or victims of peer violence.
The study included 610 (44.8% M; 51.6% F) primary school students, with average age of 13,88 years from different regions of the Republic of Croatia. For data collection the socioeconomic status questionnaire, scale of material deprivation of children in school and scale of victimization and violence among peers were used.
The results indicated that 34.8% of respondents have acted violently toward peers because of their poorer financial status, and 45.7% were victimized for the same reason. It was also found that the analyzed SES variables and material deprivation do not predict committing violence against peers. Living in unfavorable socioeconomic conditions is associated with the role of victims, lower education of mothers, lower work status of the father, child’s experience of fear because of the family’s poor financial situation, and material deprivation in school are statistically significant predictors of victimization.
It is suggested that practitioners, the public and policy makers pay attention and assist the growing number of children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families. They must be in focus of all school preventive programs, especially due to the increased risk for those children of being exposed to peer violence.


SES; deprivation; bullying; poverty; family; school

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