Understanding the pathways for pre-adolescent girls to social deviancy and possible early substance use initiation
Bowie, Bonnie H. (Bonnie Henry)
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While there has been significant progress in the epidemiology of drug use over the past several years, antecedents of early substance use initiation, particularly for girls, are still not well understood. One pathway to early substance initiation among girls may be reduced capacity to regulate negative emotions, heightened relational aggression, and deviant social behaviors. The purpose of this dissertation study was to examine the relationships among childhood emotion regulation, overt aggression, relational aggression and adolescent deviant social behaviors.This dissertation was comprised of two studies based on data drawn from the Family Health Project: Marital Discord, Parenting and Child Outcomes, a 5 year longitudinal study with 3 waves of data (S. Carrere, P.I.). Study Aim 1 examined the psychometric properties of the Child Self-Report of Emotional Experience, a new measure of emotion regulation. Study Aim 1 was based on baseline data (T1) collected from 126 children ages 51/2 to 12 years. Two constructs, emotion regulation and parental support of negative emotions emerged. Discriminant and predictive validity tests demonstrated that emotion regulation was correlated with but separate from child's attention problems and predicted internalizing behavioral problems such as depressive symptoms.The purpose of study Aim 2 and 3 was two fold: to describe the pattern of relational aggression (Aim 2) and to explore the relationship between emotion regulation and aggressive behaviors (Aim 3). Results revealed a stable pattern across time and no differences in relational aggression between girls and boys. The relationship between emotion regulation and relational aggression was moderated by gender, predicting relational aggression for girls but not boys. The same predictive relationship with overt aggression was not moderated by gender. Post hoc analysis suggested that a path to early deviant behaviors might be lower emotion regulation, depressive symptoms, relational aggression, deviant behaviors, particularly for those children who are low in prosocial behavior skills. These findings contribute to our understanding of the complexity of pathways to early adolescent behavior problems and potential links with substance abuse initiation, and will ultimately be helpful in designing early interventions aimed at enhancing emotion regulation and prosocial skills in young children.
- Nursing - Seattle