Gender Differences in the Effects of Socially Withdrawn Behavior on Depression, Anxiety, and Self-Esteem
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Social withdrawal or shyness is not uncommon in society, but can have several negative impacts on children’s well-being. This study looked into the effects of socially withdrawn behavior on several internalizing problems, such as depression, anxiety, and self-esteem, and the gender differences within these effects. It was hypothesized that socially withdrawn children will experience more symptoms of depression and anxiety, and a lower self-esteem compared to their non-withdrawn peers. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that socially withdrawn boys will experience more symptoms of depression and anxiety, and a lower self-esteem compared to socially withdrawn girls. This study used 215 students from grade four to six in its analyses. The mean age of this group was 11 years and 3 months. These children were grouped as socially withdrawn or non-withdrawn. The Revised Class Play was used to measure social withdrawal, the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale - 25 for depression and anxiety, and the Competentiebevelingsschaal voor Kinderen for self-esteem. A MANOVA and multiple ANOVAs were used as the statistical measures. Results showed that socially withdrawn children suffered significantly more from depression and social anxiety, and had a lower self-esteem than non-withdrawn children. However, no significant gender differences were found within these effects. Age was also incorporated as a control variable, but was not found to be significant. Some strengths within this study were the use of reliable instruments and statistical measures and the classifications of social withdrawal. This study also had some limitations, such as the use of a culturally unbalanced sample and the analysis of data that were collected 15 years ago, which should be taken into account by future researchers. Findings from this study may be informative to teachers or professionals who work with socially withdrawn children.