Early exposure to adverse childhood experiences and delinquent peer association among youth

Publication Year



This study examines the relationships between cumulative, timing of, and duration of early adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and delinquent peer association among youth.

Negative life outcomes associated with delinquent peer affiliation among youth are well established; however, less research has considered how or whether ACEs influence these processes.

Data were from the longitudinal Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (n = 3,060). Negative binomial regression models were to assess the relationship between early ACEs (i.e., accumulation, timing/duration) and delinquent peer association.

Our results indicate that as the number of ACEs (by age 5) incrementally increase, the likelihood of reported involvement with delinquent peers increases. Moreover, when it comes to timing and duration of ACE exposure, ACEs that are high but late, intermittent, or chronically high significantly increase the risk of delinquent peer association.

Conclusion and implications
Overall, early ACEs play an important role in delinquent peer association during adolescence. Interventions and preventions strategies, such as psychological first aid and trauma-informed health care, can help reduce the negative consequences of early ACE exposure, including the risk of associating with delinquent peers.

Publication Status
In Press
Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Science