Coping resources mediating the relationship between stressful life events and delinquent behavior among adolescents Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/z603r252r

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  • Stressful events of both major and minor magnitude in the lives of children and adolescents are significantly related to emotional and behavioral problems (Compas, 1987a; Johnson, 1986). It is also apparent, however, that this relationship is complicated and that individuals vary greatly in their responses to stress. The purpose of this study was to explore factors that mediate the relationship between negative life events and behavioral problems during adolescence. In this study, it was hypothesized that negative life events would lower personal resources which, in turn, would lower social resources. Adolescents with lower levels of personal and social resources were predicted to have higher levels of delinquent behavior. Data were collected from 217 of the 9th graders in a high school in a coastal community of Oregon. One hundred sixty-one returned completed surveys. The following scales were used; the Divorce Events Schedule for Children (Sandler, Wolchik, Braver, & Fogas, 1986), a shortened form of the Adolescent Perceived Events Scale (Compas, Davis, Forsythe, & Wagner, 1987),; Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965); Desirable and Undesirable Event Locus of Control Scale (Rothbaum, Wolfer, & Visintainer, 1979); Erikson Psychosocial Stage Inventory (Rosenthal, Gurney, & Moore, 1981); Social Support Scale for Children (Harter, 1986); Delinquency Lifestyle Scale (Ageton & Elliott, 1978). For data analysis, a series of path analyses using regression techniques was used. Results indicated that coping resources mediated the relationship between negative life events and delinquent behavior. A high level of stress was related to lower levels of personal resources. These personal resources were not directly related to more delinquent behavior, however. Rather, they were associated with lower social support and then more delinquent behavior. The findings related to specific personal resources were both consistent and contrary to predictions. Negative life events lowered self-esteem, identity, and autonomy development significantly. Consistent with previous research, adolescents with external locus of control orientation had more delinquent behavior and perceived less social support. Social support was a mediator between negative life events and delinquent behavior, implying the importance of social support from family, school, and peer in preventing delinquent behavior among adolescents.
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