Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Education

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Shannon Stewart

Abstract

Child and youth experiences of emotional abuse and bullying are harmful interactions by caregivers and peers, which produce adverse mental health and social outcomes (Glaser, 2011). This study examined the relationships between trauma exposure and internalizing outcomes through individual and parenting level strength factors. The study comprised 1,297 child and youth participants, aged 4 to 18, from inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities across Ontario, who were administered the interRAI Child and Youth Mental Health assessment (ChYMH; Stewart, Hirdes et al., 2015) with their parents/caregivers. Generalized linear modelling (Nelder & Wedderburn, 1972) was used to determine the relationships between trauma types: bullying, emotional abuse, and poly-victimization, and internalizing outcome symptoms (i.e., depressive severity, anxiety, and anhedonia). Mediation analyses with bootstrapping (Hayes, & Preacher, 2014) were then used to estimate the effects of trauma types on internalizing symptoms through individual and parenting level strength variables. Children and youth who experienced poly-victimization, bullying, and emotional abuse reported more depression and anxiety than those who were not abused, with the highest internalizing symptoms reported by poly-victimized children and youth. Poly-victimized and bullied children and youth reported more anhedonia as compared to non-abused children. Mediation analyses demonstrated there were no significant correlations between trauma types and individual strength factors. There was no evidence that parenting strengths mediated the relationships between trauma types and depression. However, there was evidence of suppressing effects of parenting on the relationship between trauma and anxiety. Auxiliary analyses revealed that parenting did not moderate the effect of trauma on anxiety. The study exemplifies the detrimental effects of bullying and emotional abuse trauma, as well as the necessity for future examinations of the roles of risk, parent-child/youth attachment styles, and strength factors that promote resilience in the face of adversity.