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Child Attributions Mediate Relationships Between Violence Exposure and Trauma Symptomology

SSW Faculty members Kathryn Collins, Pamela Clarkson Freeman, Jay Unick, Melissa Bellin, SSW Family Help Center Clinician Polly Reinicker, and recently retired Family Connections Director Frederick Strieder were all co-authors of "Child Attributions Mediate Relationships Between Violence Exposure and Trauma Symptomology," which has been published by the journal Advances in Social Work.

Violence and trauma exposure have been increasingly investigated as contributing to a range of negative outcomes in child physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and psychological functioning, particularly among youth who are racial/ethnic minorities. This study presents findings related to children's attributions of their violence and trauma exposure. Attributions are inferences made about the cause of an event, situation, or action, with internal, stable, and global attributions most likely to lead to negative psychological outcomes. Data were drawn from an on-going clinical intervention study with families at risk for child maltreatment and/or neglect residing in a large metropolitan city on the East Coast. Mediation models provide evidence for a mediated relationship between violence exposure and PTSD through child attribution. Children develop their definitions of violence, formulate reasons why the violence occurs, and react to violence based on interpreting and developing cognitive attributions and schema about their experiences with violence in order to adaptively cope.

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