Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Welfare

First Advisor's Name

Hui Huang

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Michelle Hospital

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Nicole M. Fava

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Raul Gonzalez

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


childhood adversity, trauma, juvenile delinquency, crime, mental health, alcohol and drug use, obesity, self-regulation, well-being

Date of Defense



Previous studies reported that childhood adversity has debilitating effects on adult well-being. A high prevalence of youths with delinquency histories experience childhood adversity and are at high risk for lasting negative outcomes. Research identifies that the disruption in self-regulation (SR) development explains the effects of childhood adversity on well-being outcomes.

Using data from Add Health, a national study, this dissertation (1) developed a valid and reliable measure of adult SR deficiency, (2) assessed the mediating effects of adult SR deficiency on the association between childhood adversity (i.e., child maltreatment [CM], violent victimization [VV], and economic hardship [EH]) and adult well-being (i.e., mental health problems, alcohol and drug use [AOD], obesity, and criminal behaviors), and (3) evaluated juvenile arrest (JA) as a moderator in the association between childhood adversity and adult SR deficiency among youth with delinquency histories (N=1,792). First, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to develop a measure of adult SR deficiency. Then, mediating effects were tested using structural equation modeling (SEM). Moderating effects were tested using interaction terms in regression. Results from the factor analyses identified risk-taking, sensation-seeking, impulsivity, and manipulative behaviors as indicators of adult SR deficiency. No mediating or moderating effects were found. However, several direct effects were significant. In the SEM, CM predicted increased mental health problems (β = .144, p ≤.001), criminal behaviors (β =.096, p ≤.001), and adult SR deficiency (β = .089, p ≤.001). VV predicted increased AOD (β = .070, p ≤ .05) and criminal behaviors (β = .087, p ≤.01). EH predicted increased mental health problems (β =.140, p ≤.001), but was negatively associated with obesity (β = -.041, p ≤.05). In the regression analysis, JA (β =.100, p ≤. 01), CM (β =.115, p ≤. 001), and VV (β =.071, p ≤. 05) predicted increased adult SR deficiency.

Results indicate that unique and shared effects of childhood adversities should be considered when examining the impact on adult well-being. Additionally, results offer support for preventive and trauma-informed services to mitigate the negative effects of childhood adversity and JA. Finally, researchers should consider including manipulative behaviors when measuring SR deficiency.




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