The Role of Parental Attachment in the Relation Between Trauma Exposure and Posttraumatic Growth Among Justice Involved Youth



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It is estimated that by the time individuals reach adolescence, they will have likely experienced at least one traumatic event. Early traumatic experiences are widespread; indeed, approximately 60% of adolescents under eighteen experience an event that would qualify as traumatic. Further, adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system experience higher rates of trauma exposure and related symptoms of psychopathology (e.g., PTSD) compared to their non-justice involved peers. However, not all adolescents exposed to trauma develop PTSD or other related symptoms of psychopathology, and preliminary research suggests some may experience positive psychological change in the form of posttraumatic growth (PTG). One factor which may affect the development of PTG among adolescents is parental attachment security. The aim of this study was to examine, for the first time, the role of parental attachment in the relation between trauma exposure and posttraumatic growth among a sample of justice-involved adolescents to test the hypothesis that the relation between trauma exposure and the occurrence of posttraumatic growth would be moderated by parental attachment security. Results did not provide evidence of parental attachment security as a significant moderator of the relation between trauma exposure and posttraumatic growth. Limitations and future directions are discussed.



Adolescence, Posttraumatic growth, Trauma exposure, Juvenile offenders