Adverse Childhood Experience and Adolescent Well-being: Do Protective Factors Matter?

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Amato, P. R., & Keith, B. (1999). Parental divorce and the well-being of children: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 110(1), 26–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bagner, D., & Graziano, P. (2013). Barriers to success in parent training for young children with developmental delay: the role of cumulative risk. Behavior Modification, 37(3), 356–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Benson, P., Scales, P., & Mannes, M. (2003). Developmental strengths and their sources: Implications for the study and practice of community building. Handbook of applied developmental science (1, pp. 369–400). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  4. Björkenstam, E., Hjern, A., Mittendorfer-Rutz, E., Vinnerljung, B., Hallqvist, J., & Ljung, R. (2013). Multi-exposure and clustering of adverse childhood experiences, socioeconomic differences and psychotropic medication in young adults. PLoS ONE, 8(1), e53551. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053551.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Chartier, M. J., Walker, J. R., & Naimark, B. (2010). Separate and cumulative effects of adverse childhood experiences in predicting adult health and health care utilization. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(6), 454–464. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.09.020.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Coley, R., Leventhal, T., Lynch, A., & Kull, M. (2012). Relations between housing characteristics and the well-being of low-income children and adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 49(9), 1775–1789. doi:10.1037/a0031033.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Dannerbeck, A. M. (2005). Differences in parenting attributes, experiences, and behaviors of delinquent youth with and without a parental history of incarceration. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 3(3), 199–213. doi:10.1177/1541204005276260.

  8. Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Edwards, V. J., & Williamson, D. F. (2002). Violence as children: implications for health and social services. Violence and Victims, 17(1), 3–17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Duke, N. N., Pettingell, S. L., McMorris, B. J., & Borowsky, I. W. (2010). Adolescent violence perpetration: associations with multiple types of adverse childhood experiences. Pediatrics, 125(4), e778–e786. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-0597.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Farb, A. F., & Matjasko, J. L. (2012). Recent advances in research on school-based extracurricular activities and adolescent development. Developmental Review, 32(1), 1–48. doi:10.1016/j.dr.2011.10.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., Koss, M. P., & Marks, J. S. (1998). Household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults the adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14(4), 245–258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Fox, A., Berrick, J. D., & Frasch, K. (2008). Safety, family, permanency, and child well-being: what we can learn from children. Child Welfare, 87(1), 63–90.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Graham-Bermann, S. A., & Levendosky, A. A. (1998). Traumatic stress symptoms in children of battered women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 13(1), 111–128. doi:10.1177/088626098013001007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Hawkins, J. D., Kosterman, R., Catalano, R. F., Hill, K. G., & Abbott, R. D. (2005). Promoting positive adult functioning through social development intervention in childhood: long-term effects from the seattle social development project. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 159(1), 25–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Johnson, E. I., & Easterling, B. (2012). Understanding unique effects of parental incarceration on children: challenges, progress, and recommendations. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74(2), 342–356. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.00957.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Lewis, C. S., Jospitre, T., Griffing, S., Chu, M., Sage, R., Madry, L., & Primm, B. J. (2006). Childhood maltreatment, familial violence, and retraumatization. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 4(6), 37–41. doi:10.1300/J135v06n04.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Lima, J., Caughy, M., Nettles, S. M., & O’Campo, P. J. (2010). Effects of cumulative risk on behavioral and psychological well-being in first grade: moderation by neighborhood context. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 71(8), 1447–1454. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.06.022.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Martinez, P., & Richters, J. (1993). The NIMH community violence project: II. Children’s distress symptoms associated with violence exposure. Psychiatry, 56, 22–35.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Masten, A. S., Hubbard, J. J., Gest, S. D., Tellegen, A., Garmezy, N., & Ramirez, M. (1999). Competence in the context of adversity: pathways to resilience and maladaptation from childhood to late adolescence. Development and Psychopathology, 11, 143–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. McLanahan, S., & Beck, N. A. (2010). Parental relationships in fragile families. Fragile families. The Future of Children, 20(2), 17–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Moore, K. A., Murphey, D., Bandy, T., & Lawner, E. (2014). Indices of child well-being and developmental contexts. In A. Ben-Arieh, F. Casas, I. Frønes, & J. E. Korbin (Eds.), Handbook of child well-being (pp. 2807–2822). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9063-8

  22. Moore, A., Redd, Z., Burkhauser, M., Mbwana, K., & Collins, A. (2009). Children in poverty: Trends, consequences, and policy options (pp. 1–12). Bethesda: Child Trends.

  23. National Research Council & Institute of Medicine. (2009). Preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people: Progress and possibilities. In M. E. O’Connell, T. Boat, & K. E. Warner (Eds.), Committee on the Prevention of Mental Disorders and Substance Abuse Among Children, Youth, and Young Adults: Research Advances and Promising Interventions. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

  24. Phillips, S. D., Erkanli, A., Keeler, G. P., Costello, E. J., & Anfold, A. (2006). Disentangling the risks: parent criminal justice involvement and children’s exposure to family risks. Criminology and Public Policy, 5(4), 677–702.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Poulton, R., Caspi, A., Milne, B. J., Thomson, W. M., Taylor, A., Sears, M. R., & Moffitt, T. E. (2002). Association between children’s experience of socioeconomic disadvantage and adult health: a life-course study. Lancet, 360(9346), 1640–1645. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)11602-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40(3), 879–891. doi:10.3758/BRM.40.3.879.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Rosales, T.A. (2013). Social patterning of health risk behaviors: the mediating role of exposure to childhood adversity (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/102416/1/givphd_1.pdf.

  28. Sameroff, A. J. (2000). Developmental systems and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 12(3), 297–312. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11014740

  29. Sameroff, A., Seifer, R., Barocas, R., Zax, M., & Greenspan, S. (1987). Intelligence quotient scores of 4-year-old children: social-environmental risk factors. Pediatrics, 79(3), 343–350.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Uphold-Carrier, H., & Utz, R. (2012). Parental divorce among young and adult children: a long-term quantitative analysis of mental health and family solidarity. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 53(4), 247–266. doi:10.1080/10502556.2012.663272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Yoshikawa, H., Aber, J. L., & Beardslee, W. R. (2012). The effects of poverty on the mental, emotional, and behavioral health of children and youth: implications for prevention. The American Psychologist, 67(4), 272–284. doi:10.1037/a0028015.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kristin Anderson Moore.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 6 Adverse childhood experiences
Table 7 Measures of youth outcomes
Table 8 Measures of protective factors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Moore, K.A., N. Ramirez, A. Adverse Childhood Experience and Adolescent Well-being: Do Protective Factors Matter?. Child Ind Res 9, 299–316 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-015-9324-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • ACEs
  • Adolescent well-being
  • Protective factors
  • Multiple mediation