Protective Factors Against Aggression and Antisocial Attitudes Among Probation Youth with Childhood Adversity Histories

Prev Sci. 2023 Jan;24(1):161-172. doi: 10.1007/s11121-022-01472-3. Epub 2022 Dec 7.


Childhood adversity is linked to adolescent aggression and antisocial attitudes, which are common predictors of delinquency and violence. Early interruption of these negative trajectories is important for preventing serious criminality. Efforts to bolster protective factors such as social-emotional skills and positive relationships may attenuate this link, but research is needed to clarify salient factors for court-involved youth. Using risk assessment data for a diverse sample of youth on probation (N = 5378), this study investigated the role of adverse childhood experiences in increasing aggression and antisocial attitudes and the degree to which protective factors (self-regulation, future orientation, positive parenting, prosocial connections) mitigated those relationships. Multivariate models controlling for antisocial peers demonstrated that childhood maltreatment was the most salient form of adversity for increasing both aggression and antisocial attitudes. All protective factors were associated with reduced aggression and antisocial attitudes and, in moderation models, muted the impact of childhood adversity on both outcomes. These findings highlight the need for practice efforts geared toward bolstering protective factors for youth on probation, especially among those with child maltreatment histories.

Keywords: Aggression; Antisocial attitudes; Juvenile legal system; Maltreatment; Protective factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences*
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder
  • Attitude
  • Humans
  • Protective Factors
  • Violence