The quality of the caregiver-child relationship, particularly felt acceptance from the caregiver, was the strongest protective factor in this study.
Felt acceptance had a strong, inverse relationship with both internalizing and externalizing symptoms (a main protective effect) and interacted with violence exposure to influence internalizing symptoms.
Internalizing symptoms were high and stable at low levels of felt acceptance; with increasing levels of violence exposure, adjustment problems increased for youth with high levels of felt acceptance.
Interestingly, violence exposure was negatively related to felt acceptance, such that children who experienced, witnessed or heard about high levels of violence felt less accepted by their caregivers.
These findings are consistent with those of Weist el al. (1995), who found that family cohesion protected inner-city boys from the effects of stress.
Kliewer, W., Cunningham, J.N., Diehl, R., Parrish, K.A., Walker, J.M., Atiyeh, C., Neace, B., Duncan, L., Taylor, K. & Mejia, R. (2004). Violence Exposure and Adjustment in Inner-City Youth: Child and Caregiver Emotion Regulation Skill, Caregiver-Child Relationship Quality, and Neighborhood Cohesion as Protective Factor. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 33(3), 477-487.
Families matter. Children need the support from their families. In what ways can we strengthen and promote these powerful relationships, no matter where they are right, right now?