Despite the wealth of research on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in nationally representative samples and intergenerational maltreatment in high-risk families, no study has merged these concepts to examine the intergenerational continuity of ACEs in severely impoverished families. This study investigated intergenerational ACEs and the role of risk, promotive, and protective factors, including adulthood adversity, harsh versus effective parenting, and social support quality, in homeless parents and 4-6-year-old children. Parents (n = 107; M = 31.27 years, SD = 6.59, range = 20.01-49.47 years; 63.6% African-American, 12.1% Caucasian, 8.4% Biracial/Multiracial, and 15.9% other) completed the ACEs survey developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; measures on adulthood adversity, child ACEs, and social support; and observational assessments of parenting. Path analyses revealed direct effects of parent ACEs to child ACEs and partial mediation of adulthood adversity, but not harsh parenting, for intergenerational continuity of ACEs. Rates of prospective ACEs continuity were approximately 80%. Parental social support was a promotive factor for lower child ACEs. Findings emphasize the role of negative early experiences in the intergenerational continuity of ACEs, above and beyond adversity in adulthood. Providing resources to high-risk parents with histories of ACEs and improving parental support from partners may be promising strategies to deter generational trauma.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Child Psychology. Advisor: Ann Masten. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 72 pages.
Intergenerational Continuity of Adverse Childhood Experiences in High-Risk Families.
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