Methods: In-school surveys were given to 1904 youth at two time points in one school year (fall and spring). Youth in grades 7-10 who had active parental permission participated. Youth were from a diverse community and 17% were Native American. We included reliable and valid measures of victimization and outcomes including depression, suicidality, mattering, and a range of strengths (youth voice and connection to community, future orientation, appreciation for diversity, and positive coping). For the current analyses, the sub-sample of 910 students who reported victimization at time 1 was used. Victimization was measured at time 1 while outcomes were used from survey 2, that took place approximately 6 months later.
Results: In bivariate correlations, victimization was related to lower mattering, lower grades, and higher depression and suicide. Contrary to hypotheses, race was not related to victimization but was related to lower mattering and grades, and greater depressive and suicidal symptoms. A series of multiple regressions using interaction terms computed from centered scores on race and a composite index of poly-strengths, found support for a direct effects rather than a buffering model. The composite of strengths and the variable related to race both directly explained variance in outcomes.
Implications: On balance research on resilience and strengths has focused on early childhood. The current study examined strengths in a sample of adolescents and the role such strengths may play in positive youth outcomes over time after victimization. We found that strengths benefitted all victims and may be important to incorporate into intervention efforts with at-risk youth.