Childhood adversity, sense of belonging and psychosocial outcomes in emerging adulthood: A test of mediated pathways

Tatiana Corrales, Michelle Waterford, Ian Goodwin-Smith, Leanne Wood, Todd Yourell, Coco Ho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Childhood adversity is a complex issue with the potential for lasting effects over the developmental trajectory. Research has confirmed that people who experience significant adversity, hardship and trauma in early stages of development are at an increased risk of a range of negative outcomes at later stages of the life-course, including increased psychological distress and dysfunction, decreased likelihood of educational engagement and an increased risk of early parenthood. However, distal events exert their influence on later outcomes through various proximal mechanisms. One such postulated mechanism is a sense of belonging. This study investigated the role of sense of belonging as a mediator between experiences of adversity in childhood and psychosocial outcomes in emerging adulthood, amongst a sample of 254 young people receiving a range of social services throughout Australia. Results of three mediation analyses confirm that the path from childhood adversity to psychological distress and educational engagement is only weakly mediated by sense of belonging. No other statistically significant relationships were found. These results indicate that additional mediators are likely needed to more fully explain the effects of childhood adversity on psychosocial functioning in emerging adulthood. The paper concludes with a discussion of the relevance of belonging for practice in the field of child and youth welfare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-119
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue numberApril 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Belonging
  • Childhood adversity
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Psychological distress
  • Psychosocial outcomes


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