Interpersonal Trauma and Depressive Symptoms in Early Adolescents: Exploring the Moderating Roles of Parent and School Connectedness

Kami L. Schwerdtfeger Gallus, Karina M. Shreffler, Michael J. Merten, Ronald B. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Interpersonal traumas experienced early in life adversely impact psychological well-being in children and adolescents, yet the specific role that social support can have in reducing negative outcomes following trauma exposure is unclear. Using a general population sample of seventh-grade students in an urban public school district in the South Central United States (n = 1,712), we examined the effects of early life interpersonal trauma exposure on adolescents’ depressive symptoms and examined moderating effects of two types of social support, perceived parent and school connectedness. Findings suggest that early life trauma is common among young urban adolescents. Linear regression findings indicate that cumulative trauma exposure is associated with greater levels of depressive symptoms. Greater parent and school connectedness are associated with reduced depressive symptoms, and there was a moderating effect for parent connectedness; trauma exposure was significantly associated with depressive symptoms only when parent connectedness was low, indicating a protective effect of high parent connectedness for early adolescents exposed to trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)990-1013
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • early adolescence
  • interpersonal trauma
  • mental health outcomes
  • social support

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