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Does youth mentorship quality moderate or mediate the association between insecure parent child attachment and externalizing behaviors?


Past literature has indicated that youth externalizing behaviors are associated with negative outcomes in adolescence, such as violence and drug use, however it is unclear if mentorship quality acts as a buffer for these behaviors. The current study examined the interactions between parent-child attachment, mentorship quality, and externalizing behaviors in the context of a youth mentoring program. Specifically, this study assessed 1) the association between parent-child attachment and youth anger, delinquency, and school behavior, 2) the extent to which mentorship quality moderated this association, and 3) the extent to which there are indirect effects of mentorship quality on the main association. Participants (N = 676; 58.4% male, 58.6% White; Mage=14.21) self-reported on the measures at baseline and again at program post-test. Findings showed parent-child attachment security was significantly associated with anger but was not significantly associated with delinquency or school behavior. Secondly, there were no significant interactions between parent-child attachment and mentorship quality in relation to any of the externalizing symptoms found. Lastly, the study found significant indirect effects of attachment security on anger, delinquency, and school behavior at the end of the mentorship program through mentee-reported mentorship quality. These results show promise for possible positive impacts of a strong mentorship quality on youth.


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externalizing symptoms
youth mentoring
school behavior


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