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01-08-2014 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2014

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2014

Gender as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Early Separation from Parents and Psychopathic Traits in a Sample of At-Risk Adolescents

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2014
Auteurs:
Rebecca P. Ang, Vivien S. Huan, Wan Har Chong, Lay See Yeo, Carol Balhetchet, Suzanne L. Seah

Abstract

This study examined the relationship between early separation from parents and psychopathic traits in a diverse Asian community sample of at-risk adolescents. Specifically, we tested whether gender could moderate this relationship. Data on 113 at-risk adolescents were provided by their parents who participated in this study. These adolescents were between the ages of 11 and 16 years (M = 14.35; SD = 1.10). Parents provided ratings on psychopathic traits with respect to their adolescent and they also provided information on demographic variables, psychosocial and familial information. Results showed that gender moderated the link between early separation from parents and adolescent psychopathy. As hypothesized, boys who experienced early separation from parents were associated with significantly higher levels of psychopathic traits compared with boys who did not experience early separation from parents. Girls who experienced and who did not experience early separation from parents had levels of psychopathic traits that were not significantly different from each other. These findings suggest that boys appear to be more vulnerable to the negative effects of early separation from parents and early emotional parental deprivation. There are important implications of these findings for both researchers and practitioners with respect to attempting to ameliorate the negative trajectory associated with psychopathy. It is critical to pay attention to and work with children and adolescents, especially boys, who have had early disruption to parental caregiving arrangements. Additionally, it is equally important to work with to-be adoptive or foster parents on how to handle and support potentially emotionally damaged children.

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