The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Personal and Environmental Protective Factors Contributing to the Resilience of Latino Adolescents Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence: Findings From the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW II)

Saturday, January 18, 2014: 9:00 AM
HBG Convention Center, Room 002B River Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Susana Mariscal, MSW, PhD Candidate, Graduate Research Assistant, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Purpose: While childhood exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) has serious consequences for individuals (Fantuzzo & Fusco, 2007; Lundy & Grossman, 2005), a growing body of research asserts that negative outcomes are not inevitable when the adolescents’ personal and environmental protective factors are mobilized (Anderson, 2010; Luna, 2009).  However, little literature exists regarding the protective factors that contribute to the resilience of Latino adolescents exposed to IPV. Thus, the purpose of the current study is to identify personal and environmental protective factors associated to Latino adolescents’ resilience in regard to their mental health, risky behaviors, and school engagement.

Methods: Data was obtained from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW II), a national probability sample of youth under maltreatment investigation. The current sample was restricted to youth between ages 11 and 17 who remained at home with their biological, step, or adoptive mother (n= 601). Structural equation modeling was used to examine theoretically hypothesized predictive and moderating relationships (resilience theory, Benard, 2004; Masten, 2001) among risk (e.g. exposure to mild and severe IPV and maternal reports) and both personal (e.g. social and adaptive skills, cognitive skills, future expectations, and spirituality) and environmental protective factors (e.g. positive relationships with mothers and peers, maternal monitoring, and caring adults) on mental health, risky behaviors, and school engagement. Racial/ethnic differences in the patterns identified were also examined.

Results: Personal and environmental protective factors were associated with improved outcomes for adolescents exposed to IPV in the NSCAW sample. Lower levels of mental health problems were associated with positive relationships with mothers (β=-.604, p<.001) and peers (β=-.458, p<.001), even after controlling for the rest of the predictors and covariates in the model.  Social and adaptive skills moderated the relationship between exposure to both mild (β=.447, p<.001) and severe IPV (β=-.376, p<.001. Higher levels of spirituality were associated with lower levels of engagement in risky behaviors (β=-.369, p<.001). Higher levels of school engagement were associated with positive job expectations for the future (β=.427, p<.001) and positive relationships with peers (β=.363, p<.001). While the presence of caring adults moderated the negative effects of maternal reports of IPV on school engagement (β=.235, p<.001), the negative effects of exposure to mild IPV on school engagement tended to increase when the levels of spirituality increased (β=-.194, p<.05). While most of these relationship patterns were similar across racial/ethnic groups, the effects of maternal monitoring (β=.866, p<.01) and exposure to mild IPV (β=-.869, p<.001) on mental health outcomes were different for Latino adolescents when compared to adolescents from “other” race/ethnicity.

Implications: Personal and environmental protective factors contributed to the resilience of adolescents exposed to IPV in terms of their mental health, risky behaviors, and school engagement, even after controlling for all the covariates in the study. The impact of exposure to mild IPV appeared to be pervasive, negatively impacting all outcomes. While some racial/ethnic differences were found, most of the patterns of interrelationships identified in the study were similar for Latino adolescents.  Practice and policy implications will be discussed.