Trauma and Early Adolescent Perceptions About Sex and Parenthood: The Mediating Role of Anger Regulation

Karina M. Shreffler, Stacy Tiemeyer, Zachary Giano, Kami L. Gallus, Ronald B. Cox, Michael J. Merten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using a population-based sample of 1,311 seventh graders in an urban school district in the South Central United States, we examined the associations between early-life trauma, anger regulation, and early adolescent perceptions about sex and parenthood. Girls and boys with more trauma exposure were more likely to perceive adolescent parenthood as ideal for them (odds ratio [OR] = 1.29, p <.01 and OR = 1.24, p <.01, respectively). Childhood trauma was also associated with increased perceived pressure to have sex for both girls and boys (OR = 1.23, p <.001 and OR = 1.22, p <.001) and to have a baby (OR = 1.51, p <.001 and OR = 1.46, p <.001). Anger regulation mediated the association between childhood trauma and perceiving teen parenthood as ideal for both girls and boys, but not of felt pressures. Our results suggest that anger regulation skills may offer insight for trauma-informed adolescent pregnancy prevention efforts and these efforts need to begin early, before adolescents start engaging in risky behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalYouth and Society
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2018



  • adolescence
  • emotion regulation
  • pregnancy
  • teen parenthood
  • trauma

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