Effects of Childhood Adversities on Positive Adult Functioning across Racial Groups, and Examination of School Bonding as a Moderator
Sarka, Ebasa Belina
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University of Washington Abstract Effects of Childhood Adversities on Positive Adult Functioning across Racial Groups, and Examination of School Bonding as a Moderator Ebasa Belina Sarka Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Associate Professor Tracy Harachi, School of Social Work Adverse childhood experiences increase the risk of long term detrimental effects in adulthood, including poor physical and mental health, as well as functions in multiple social domains. There is a growing need to broaden the definition of childhood adversity, and to consider resilience in the investigation of the long term consequences of childhood adversity. This study examined three questions with focus on the long term impacts of childhood adversity: (1) Does childhood adversity as measured by abuse and neglect, poor bonding with parents, poor attachment to neighborhood, family conflict, and poverty impact resilient adult functioning at age 27?; (2) Does the effect identified in question 1 vary across races? In other words, does childhood adversity predict positive adult outcomes differently across three racial groups?; and, (3) Do the experience of high/low school bonding in high school moderate the relationship of childhood adversity on resilient adult functioning? The data in use come from the Seattle Social Development Project (SSDP), a longitudinal study in which 808 children from 18 schools in an urban area in the Pacific Northwest were followed into their adulthood, and regularly interviewed over the last 25 years. This study focuses on the experiences of African Americans (n=192), Asian Americans (n=171), and European Americans (n=374). The structural equation modeling (SEM), techniques were used to examine questions in this dissertation. Results of the full sample indicate that adverse childhood experiences have a negative impact on resilient adult functioning at age 27. In particular, child maltreatment, poor bonding with parents, and low socioeconomic status showed significantly negative impacts. Identifying as Asian American was also found to positively predict positive adult functioning. Tests of invariance in the regression paths of childhood adversity on positive adult functioning suggests a minor difference in how childhood adversity predicts adult functioning across racial groups. The constructs of child maltreatment and poor bonding to parents appear to function differently across racial groups. This model did not predict any significant relationships between childhood adversity and positive adult functioning for the African American group. Examining the moderating effect of high versus low levels of school bonding indicates non-invariant measurement across high and low school bonded groups. There was no evidence of moderation.