The relationship of social support to depressive symptoms during the transition to high school

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The transition to high school is studied as a time when students may experience disruptions in their social support systems. Peer support, family support, and school belonging were hypothesized to be associated with adolescent adjustment, specifically depressive symptoms. Participants included 104 eighth graders and 101 ninth graders from a middle- to high-income, predominantly white community in southern Rhode Island. In year 2, 60 of the original 8th graders were surveyed as 9th graders. Three hypotheses were examined: Social support declines from 8th to 9th grade; depressive symptoms increase from 8th to 9th grade; and social support is significantly associated with depressive symptoms. The hypotheses were tested using cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Results indicated that 9th graders experienced more depressive symptoms and lower levels of school belonging as compared to the 8th graders. Changes in parent support and peer support were significantly associated with depressive symptoms in the transition to high school. Implications for increasing school belonging in the 9th grade are discussed.

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