ADVERSITY, RESILIENCE, AND CRIME: EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF RESILIENCE ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES AND JUVENILE DELINQUENCY
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Empirical evidence has supported the argument that childhood trauma is associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in juvenile delinquency. Less is known, however, about how one’s level of resilience might affect this relationship. The purpose of the current study was to explore how ACEs were related to offending behavior, as well as the impact that resilience had on that relationship. Furthermore, in response to the emerging academic focus on contextual resilience domains, this study examined whether these different domains of resilience (i.e., individual, peer, family, school, community) were conceptually distinct from one another. Steps were also taken to assess the unique impact that each resilience domain had on the relationship between trauma and delinquency. Statistical analyses were conducted on a sample of 50,862 PACT assessments of justice-involved youth to examine: (1) how ACEs were related to offending behavior (i.e., recidivism); (2) how resilience was related to offending behavior; (3) whether different resilience domains reduced the impact of ACEs on recidivism; and (4) whether the effect of resilience was consistent across ACE scores. Results indicated that ACEs were related to both general and violent recidivism, and that the more exposure youth had to childhood trauma, the more likely they were to engage in criminal behavior. Analyses also indicated that recidivism decreased as resilience rates increased. Significant decreases in likelihood of reoffending were observed in all resilience domains. When youth had higher levels of resilience, the impact of their ACEs on subsequent offending behavior was reduced. In general, findings suggested that resilience has a moderating effect on the relationship between ACEs and recidivism that varies across levels of ACEs. Policy implications of these findings and suggestions for future research are also discussed.