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Title:Difficulties among children exposed to multiple risks and the protective role of social support
Author(s):Thomann Mitchell, Elissa
Director of Research:Raffaelli, Marcela
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Raffaelli, Marcela
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Jarrett, Robin L.; Wiley, Angela R.; Park, Jung M.
Department / Program:Human & Community Development
Discipline:Human & Community Development
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):multiple risks
child outcomes
Abstract:The current study explored the difficulties faced by children exposed to multiple family-level risk factors, and examined the possibility that having one or more supportive relationships in their lives buffered the negative effects of these risks. Data from an ongoing longitudinal study, the MAKE IT! (Mother’s and Kids’ Experiences in Transition) Project were used for this dissertation study. Mother completed a face-to-face interview reporting on their marriage, separation, and divorce, several demographic factors, their mental and physical health and that of their children. The sample for the current study consisted of 103 children ages 3 to 17 (50% female). A cumulative risk score was created based on 9 family-level factors (e.g., low parental education, below poverty level, poor maternal mental health). Child adjustment was measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (Goodman, 1997). Social support was defined as a non-parental adult with whom the child regularly spent time and trusted. Step-wise regression was used to assess the association between risk and difficulties; descriptive and inferential statistics were used to explore the social supports of the children; moderation analyses (Baron & Kenny, 1986) were used to examine whether the presence of and/or the number of social supports moderated the relationship between risk and difficulties. Findings indicated that risk and difficulties were positively associated, such that as the cumulative risk score increased, so did child difficulties. The majority of the sample (85%) reported at least one non-parental adult support person. The moderation analyses were not significant for the whole sample, but differential effects based on age and gender were found. Results highlight the importance of exploring children’s exposure to cumulative risk and support as a potential protective factor. Implications for further research and practice are discussed.
Issue Date:2013-05-24
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Elissa Thomann Mitchell
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-24
Date Deposited:2013-05

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