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Journal: Journal of child and family studies


This study investigated relationships between attachment insecurity, maladaptive cognitive schemas, and various types of psychopathological symptoms in a sample of clinically referred adolescents (N = 82). A mediation model was tested in which maladaptive schemas operated as mediators in the relations between indices of attachment quality and conduct, peer, and emotional problems. Results revealed partial support for the hypothesized mediation effect: the schema domain of disconnection/rejection acted as a mediator in the links between insecure attachment and peer problems and emotional problems. Further analysis of these effects revealed that different types of maladaptive schemas were involved in both types of psychopathology. Altogether, findings suggest that treatment of adolescent psychological problems may need to target the improvement of attachment relationships with peers and parents and the correction of underlying cognitive schemas.

Concepts: Psychology, Adolescence, Psychiatry, Attachment theory, Mediation, Peer group, Family therapy, John Bowlby


Adolescent fighting affects 25% of youth, with the highest rates among African-Americans and Latinos but little is known about parental views on youth fighting. The purpose of this study was to examine African-American and Latino parents' perspectives on adolescent fighting and methods to prevent fighting. We conducted four focus groups with parents of African-American and Latino urban adolescents. Focus groups were stratified by race/ethnicity and fighting status. Groups were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed by three independent coders using thematic content analysis. Seventy-six percent of the 17 participants were female. Latino parents condoned fighting only as a last resort, and taught children about consequences of fighting, emotional regulation, and non-violent conflict-resolution strategies. African-American parents endorsed teaching non-violent strategies, but expressed some doubts about their effectiveness. African-American parents also suggested corporal punishment, but acknowledged that this may not be an optimal long-term strategy. Positive role modeling and involvement by teachers and other adults were cited as having important roles in fighting prevention. Suggested interventions included teaching adolescents non-violent conflict-resolution skills, anger management, and alternatives to fighting. Parents recommended that violence prevention programs incorporate the experiences of former fighters and be tailored to community needs. Study findings suggest that youth violence-prevention programs may benefit from addressing parental attitudes towards fighting and parent-child communication about fighting, teaching adolescents non-violent conflict-resolution skills, and tailoring programs by race/ethnicity. Promoting positive modeling and involvement by teachers and other adults also may be beneficial.

Concepts: Demographics of the United States, White American, Strategy, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Mexican American, Teacher, Spanish American, Virginia


Children who possess less self-regulatory skill are at a disadvantage when compared to children who demonstrate greater skill at regulating their emotions, cognitions and behavior. Children with these regulatory deficits have difficulty connecting with peers, generating relationships with teachers, negotiating their social world, and succeeding academically. By understanding the correlates of self-regulatory abilities, interventions can be developed to ensure that children at-risk for poor self-regulation receive the support necessary to enhance their regulatory skills. Using data from a nationally representative survey of English-speaking American parents with children between the ages of two and eight (n = 1,141), we evaluated a host of demographic and parenting variables to isolate the correlates of self-regulation. Older children were found to have fewer regulatory problems than younger children while children from low-income homes and male children were found to have greater problems with self-regulation. Minority status, household composition (single vs multi-parent), and parental education were not significant correlates of self-regulation. Findings also illustrate the powerful relationship between parenting style and self-regulation. Parents who rely on nurturing parenting practices that reinforce the child’s sense of autonomy while still maintaining a consistent parenting presence (i.e., authoritative parenting) have children who demonstrate stronger self-regulatory skills. Parents who exert an excess of parental control (i.e., authoritarian parents) have children with weaker self-regulatory skills. And lastly, parents who have notable absence of control (i.e., permissive parents) are more likely to have children with considerable regulatory deficits. Results offer implications for both practitioners and scholars.

Concepts: Family, Parent, Child, Childhood, Regulation, Parenting, Parenting styles, Concerted cultivation


Over the past two decades, virginity pledges have proliferated in the US, despite mixed results regarding their effectiveness. Few studies have examined possible mechanisms that may shed light on why pledges work for some individuals but not others. Using a sample of emerging-adults aged 18-24 years old (n = 1,380),we examine the influence of religiosity on pledge signing and adherence, specifically whether the effectiveness of pledges is moderated by religiosity. Findings show that while religious participation is positively associated with signing a pledge, there is amoderating effect of religious commitment. That is, when religious commitment is high, adherence to the pledge is greater. However, for pledge signers with low religious commitment, there are unintended negative consequences with regard to increased participation in risky sexual behaviors, whether compared to other people who signed the pledge who are equally committed to their religion or to individuals who have never taken such a pledge. Implications for research and policy are discussed.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Religion, Sign, Pledge, Pledge drive, Oath


The present study was conducted with the aim to identify comorbid psychiatric disorders in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (n = 40) and to compare those comorbidity rates to those in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (n = 40). Participants were clinically referred children aged 7-18 years. DSM-IV classifications were used for the primary diagnosis (ASD/ADHD), while comorbid psychiatric disorders were assessed using a structured diagnostic interview, the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV, childhood diagnoses (KID-SCID). Twenty-three children with ASD (57.5 %) had at least one comorbid disorder, whereas 16 children with ADHD (40.0 %) were classified as having at least one comorbid disorder. No group differences were found with respect to this comorbidity rate or for the rate of comorbid externalizing disorders (ODD and/or CD). However, children with ASD had more comorbid internalizing disorders compared to children with ADHD. More specifically, children with ASD had higher rates of anxiety disorders, but not mood disorders. No associations between comorbidity and age or between comorbidity and the intelligence quotient was found. It is important for clinicians to always be aware of, and screen for, comorbidity, and to consider treatment for these comorbid disorders. In addition, research should focus on establishing valid and reliable screening tools as well as effective treatment options for these comorbid disorders.

Concepts: Attention, Educational psychology, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Hyperactivity, Mental disorder, Major depressive disorder, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder controversies


Approximately 10% of children grow up with a parent who has been diagnosed with a chronic medical condition (CMC) and seem to be at risk for adjustment difficulties. We examined differences in behavioral, psychosocial and academic outcomes between 161 adolescents from 101 families with a chronically ill parent and 112 adolescents from 68 families with healthy parents, accounting for statistical dependence within siblings. Children between 10 and 20 years and their parents were visited at home and filled in questionnaires. Multilevel analyses showed that 20-60% of the variance in most adolescent outcomes was due to the family cluster effect, especially in internalizing problem behavior, caregiving variables and quality of parent attachment. Conversely, the variance in stress and coping variables and grade point average (GPA) was mainly due to individual characteristics. Adolescents with parents affected by CMC displayed more internalizing problems than the comparison group and scored higher on frequency of household chores, caregiving responsibilities, activity restrictions, isolation, daily hassles and stress. In addition, their grade point average was comparatively worse. No group differences in externalizing problems, coping skills and quality of parent attachment were found. In conclusion, the family cluster effect largely explains adolescent outcomes and should be accounted for. Adolescents with parents affected by CMC are subject to an increased risk for internalizing problems, adverse caregiving characteristics, daily hassles, stress and a low GPA. According to a family-centered approach, school counselors and health care practitioners should be alert to adjustment difficulties of children with a chronically ill parent.

Concepts: Family, Health care, Psychology, Medicine, Grade, Developmental psychology, Sibling, Attachment parenting


The death of a loved one, particularly a parent, has been identified as not only the most common, but also the most distressing form of adversity youth may experience in their lifetime. Surviving caregivers' communication with their children may play a critical role in shaping bereaved children’s psychological functioning. However, few studies have examined the specific content (e.g., word usage) of caregivers' verbal communication as a predictor of psychological functioning in bereaved youth. In a sample of 39 parentally-bereaved children and their surviving caregivers, we investigated whether the frequency of caregivers' use of positive emotion words (e.g., “love”, “happy”, “hope”) during a reminiscing task about the deceased was associated with children’s psychological functioning and coping. In a cross-sectional analysis, we specifically examined whether these associations were moderated by the amount of time passed since children lost their parents. The Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count Program (LIWC) was used to code and evaluate the percentage of positive emotion words caregivers used during the discussion. When caregivers used more positive emotion words, children were less likely to experience depression, anxiety, and avoidant coping. Those associations were present for children who had experienced parental loss at least 105 days prior to the study. Our findings have implications for how caregivers can support their children and help to alleviate psychological distress in the aftermath of parental loss.

Concepts: Psychology, Parent, Cognitive science, Linguistics, Sentence, Language, Emotion, Love


Caregiver-adolescent communication about sex plays a critical role in the sexual socialization of youth. Many caregivers, however, do not engage their youth in such conversations, potentially placing them at risk for negative sexual health outcomes. Lack of caregiver-adolescent communication about sex may be particularly harmful for rural African American youth, as they often report early sex initiation and are disproportionately impacted by STIs. Moreover, sexual communication may be particularly challenging for families with strong religious backgrounds, potentially affecting the occurrence and breadth of topics covered during communication. Study aims were to: determine whether there was a relationship between caregiver religiosity and type of topics covered during communication about sex (e.g., general sexual health vs. positive aspects of sexuality) among 435 caregivers of early adolescent, African American youth; and if so, identify factors that might explain how religiosity affects communication about sex. Results indicated that caregiver religiosity was positively associated with communication about general, but not positive aspects of sexuality for caregivers of males. Attitudes towards communication about sex and open communication style mediated the relationship. There was no association between religiosity and communication about sex for caregivers of females. The findings from this study could provide a base to better understand and support the sexual socialization process within religious, African American families.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Male, Female, Gender, Sex, African American, Southern United States, American Civil War


Nearly half of children in the child welfare system have clinically significant behavior problems and are at risk of developing disruptive behavioral disorders. Yet, behavioral parent training interventions, which are the most effective way to treat these problems, are rarely provided to child welfare involved families. As a result, little is known about the acceptability and appropriateness of these parent training interventions with these families. This qualitative study explored implementation outcomes of an evidenced-based parenting intervention, Pathways Triple P, with families in the child welfare system. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents investigated for child maltreatment (n=47); following participation in the Pathways Triple P. Parents were asked about their perceptions of acceptability (program satisfaction) and appropriateness (program fit). Despite the complicated and often chaotic lives common among this vulnerable population, study findings suggest that most parents found the intervention to be useful and relevant. Pathways Triple P’s content, structure and materials for parents were key aspects of acceptability and appropriateness. Barriers to participation were also identified separately for parents who did not receive the full dosage of the intervention. Study findings indicate that Pathways Triple P is a promising strategy to improve behavioral health outcomes for maltreated children and increase positive parenting behaviors for child welfare involved parents.

Concepts: Psychology, Parent, Childhood, Behavior, Human behavior, Mother, Father, Parenting


The Latino youth population is rapidly growing and expected to comprise nearly 40% of the total youth population by 2060. Unfortunate disparities exist in the United States (U.S.), such that young Latinos are less likely than non-Hispanic Whites to receive and benefit from mental health services. In order to identify and prioritize specific areas of mental health outreach, the current study examined preliminary rates, associations, and predictors of child psychopathology in a convenience sample of Latino youth. 123 Spanish and English speaking Latino parents of school-aged children completed a series of questionnaires regarding child and family functioning. Latino youth in the current sample demonstrated comparable rates of psychopathology to non-referred, normative samples. Parental acculturation (particularly Separated parental acculturation status: high orientation to Latino culture and low orientation to U.S. mainstream culture) was associated with an increased prevalence of clinically significant psychopathology across several domains, and socioeconomic status was associated with an increased prevalence of thought problems. Additionally, Separated parental acculturation status significantly predicted the prevalence of clinically significant anxious/depressed problems, such that youth of parents displaying Separated acculturation status were significantly more represented in the clinically-elevated groups than the functional groups. These preliminary results suggest that prioritizing outreach to Latino youth of parents maintaining orientation to Latino culture but not U.S. mainstream culture may be necessary in order to begin addressing existing mental health disparities in the U.S.

Concepts: Health care, Health disparities, United States, Sociology, White American, Psychiatry, Hispanic and Latino Americans, Mexican American