Objectives: To determine whether traumatic experiences of children entering the child welfare system have an impact on their risk behaviors and whether these behaviors are moderated by children's strengths. Method: The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services administered the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) measure to 8,131 children as they entered custody and analyzed Traumatic Experiences, Risk Behaviors and Strengths using polytomous logistic regression models. Results: Children entering child welfare have suffered multiple traumatic experiences. There is a strong linear relationship between the number of these experiences and the level of the children's high risk behaviors. However, there is an interactive effect between traumatic experiences and children's strengths on the risk behaviors, with strengths having a greater moderating effect as the number of traumatic experiences increases. Conclusions: Children entering the child welfare system present with complicated histories that include multiple traumatic experiences and multiple high risk behaviors. However, the more strengths these children have developed, the less likely they are to engage in high-risk behaviors. This resilience has major implications for both prevention and treatment.
- Adverse experiences
- Child welfare
- Risk behaviors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health