Adverse Childhood Experience and Adolescent Well-being: Do Protective Factors Matter?
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Studies have found traumatic experiences in childhood to have lasting effects across the lifecourse. These adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) include a variety of types of trauma, including psychological, physical or sexual abuse; living in poverty; violence in the home; living with a substance abuser; living with a mentally ill or suicidal person; or living with someone who is or has been imprisoned. Long-term effects among adults have been found in previous studies; but there is limited research on the association between ACEs and adolescent development and even less on potential protective factors to mediate these associations. Utilizing the U.S. 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health, this study examines both the prevalence of ACEs in a nationally representative sample of 12–17 year old adolescents and the cross-sectional relationship between experiencing ACEs and multiple measures of well-being. Potential protective factors are then examined in a mediation model. Results indicate that the more ACEs adolescents experience, the less likely they are to enjoy high levels of well-being. Many factors partially mediate this association, including residing in a safe neighborhood, attending a safe school, and parental monitoring of friends and activities. We conclude that measures of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) represent an important construct for indicator systems; in addition, these findings indicate that measures of protective factors represent important components of indication systems.
KeywordsAdverse childhood experiences ACEs Adolescent well-being Protective factors Multiple mediation
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