Marilyn Welsh

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Empirical research reports that children who are exposed to maltreatment are more likely to experience adverse effects in life endeavors; however, research has also shown strengths in the form of resiliency. Currently, relationships between childhood maltreatment, emotion regulation and resilience in an academic setting are under-researched. Child maltreatment has serious implications and is defined as any act(s) by a parent(s) or caregiver(s), resulting in harm, threat of harm to a child, including physical, sexual, psychological, neglect, or failure of supervision. The focus of this study was to investigate how childhood maltreatment, emotion regulation and resilience interact with each other in an academic setting, at the University of Northern Colorado, using well-known, self-report measures. It was predicted that elevated levels of childhood maltreatment would be associated with the main outcome of interest, academic resilience. It was hypothesized that emotion dysregulation would be correlated with both maltreatment and academic resilience and, thus, serve as a mediator in the pathway. This information would be useful in determining what methods could be put into practice to increase college success overall, but particularly for students who experienced histories of childhood maltreatment. The study had a total of 124 students voluntarily participate by answering survey items from the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Difficulties in Emotion Regulation (DERS (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale)) and Academic Resilience Scale (ARS-30), during the Fall 2022 school semester. Findings demonstrated significant correlations as predicted. Higher scores of childhood maltreatment were predictive of lower scores of academic resilience on all three scales. Child Maltreatment histories correlated positively with all aspects of emotion dysregulation. Interestingly, among the relationships, difficulties commonly found with emotion dysregulation predicted controlling negative emotions in hypothetical academic failure situations. Emotion dysregulation fully mediated the pathways between a history of emotional abuse and academic resilience (both controlling negative emotions and perseverance). These results suggest strongly that students with a history of childhood maltreatment likely suffer from emotion dysregulation, which correlates to academic struggle and are in need of additional support systems to mitigate the disadvantage.

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