Adverse and traumatic experiences in childhood are associated with multiple forms of child and adolescent psychopathology. However, the vast majority of research on this topic has been carried out in high-income and/or Western countries, and it remains unclear whether those findings are applicable across social and cultural contexts. Thus, the aim of the current thesis was to examine the relationship between childhood adversities and psychopathology, especially focusing on low- and middle-income and non-Western countries and aggressive and antisocial behaviours in young people. In line with previous research from high-income countries, study 1 provides evidence of childhood trauma as a transdiagnostic risk factor for psychopathology in childhood, using data from a large birth cohort study from Brazil, a middle-income country. As well as confirming the harmful effects of interpersonal trauma, study 1 further identifies non-interpersonal trauma as a significant contributor to child psychopathology. Using data from the same birth cohort, study 2 found reciprocal effects between harsh parenting and child conduct problems, and unidirectional effects of harsh parenting on child emotional problems, corroborating results from high-income countries. Extending existing developmental trajectories of conduct problems from ages 4-13 years up to age 17 years in a large UK birth cohort, study 3 found similar patterns of associations between child abuse and early-onset persistent and adolescence-onset conduct problems, suggesting quantitative as opposed to qualitative differences between these conduct problem trajectories. Study 4 used data from two nationally representative samples of school-aged children in South Korea. In line with research from Western countries, the findings highlight the potential protective effect of neighbourhood collective efficacy on family violence and youth antisocial behaviour. Finally, study 5 examined child resilience to maternal depression, again using longitudinal data from a Brazilian birth cohort study. The study found evidence of indirect effects from SES to resilience via early cognitive stimulation and IQ, suggesting that preventive interventions focusing on promoting cognitive stimulation and cognitive development may foster positive outcomes in children exposed to maternal depression. Collectively, while these studies provide further evidence of the harmful effects of adverse and traumatic experiences in childhood across social and cultural contexts, they also highlight the role of potential protective individual-, family-, and neighbourhood-level factors.
|Date of Award
|23 Mar 2022
|Sarah Halligan (Supervisor), Graeme Fairchild (Supervisor), Gemma Hammerton (Supervisor) & Alicia Matijasevich (Supervisor)