Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Dianne C. Carmody

Committee Member

Elizabeth Monk-Turner

Committee Member

Scott Maggard

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 R39 2015


Self-esteem is not only important for the well being of a child, but the effects of low levels of self-esteem can continue well into adulthood. Past research identifies many possible predictors of self-esteem including: age, gender, Ethnicity, interpersonal relationships, parenting techniques and locus of control. One downfall of previous literature is the lack of exploration performed with high-risk samples. This study aims to begin to fill this void.

Utilizing data from the INVEST project, the current analysis examines predictors of self esteem among 161 children and adolescents aged 8-17, referred to a hospital based Child Advocacy Center due to exposure to traumatic events. The analysis shows that age, interpersonal relationships and locus of control are significant predictors of self-esteem within this sample. Older children had lower self-esteem levels than younger one , less conflict present in interpersonal relationships was associated with higher levels of self-esteem and a more internal locus of control was associated with higher levels of self-esteem. It was also determined that the high-risk adolescent sample used in this study had significantly lower levels of self-esteem than the general population comparison group.

Although limitations are present, including relatively small sample size and inability to provide causality, there are numerous strengths. These strengths include a vast dataset and the presence of a unique but important sample. This study serves as the first of many necessary to explore the predictors of self-esteem in high-risk samples.


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