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01-04-2015 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2015

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2015

The Mediating Role of Parenting Stress for Children Exposed to Trauma: Results from a School-Based System of Care

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2015
Melissa L. Whitson, Stanley Bernard, Joy S. Kaufman


Children’s exposure to potentially traumatic events is related to negative mental health outcomes. To promote more positive outcomes, protective factors that can buffer the impact of these experiences need to be identified. The present study examined whether lower parental stress might function as a protective factor for children enrolled in a behavioral health system of care. Specifically, the relationship between a history of interpersonal trauma (physical abuse, sexual abuse, and witnessing domestic violence) and internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors were examined, as was the role of parenting stress in helping to explain this relationship. The sample included African American and Latino children (ages 5–19) from low-income families, who have a serious emotional disturbance, and received services in a school-based system of care. Results of path analyses revealed that parenting stress mediated the relationship between trauma exposure and internalizing problem behaviors. For the relationship between trauma exposure and externalizing problem behaviors, mediation approached significance. The findings suggest that family factors, such as parenting stress, could be potential modifiable protective factors for these children. Systems of care can use this information to encourage the implementation of more family-focused treatments and interventions.

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