Positive Childhood Experiences (PCE): Cumulative Resiliency in the Face of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice

Michael T. Baglivio, Kevin T. Wolff



The maltreatment-offending relationship has been well elucidated. Less examined are protective factors that effectively serve to mitigate offending among ACE-exposed youth. The current study examines whether cumulative positive childhood experiences (PCEs) are themselves associated with a reduction in recidivism among juvenile justice-involved adolescents, and the ability of cumulative PCE to moderate the ACE-recidivism relationship. Results demonstrate, among over 28,000 juvenile offenders, high ACE scores were associated with increased reoffending, and high PCE scores were associated with decreased recidivism, as measured by both rearrest and reconviction. Further, among juveniles with four or more ACEs who have six or more PCEs, reconviction was 23% lower and rearrest 22% lower when compared to those youth with four or more ACEs and less than six PCEs, controlling for a host of demographic and criminal history measures. Findings indicate that among youth with high PCE scores the positive association between ACEs and recidivism is no longer significant. Implications for juvenile justice practice and policy are discussed.

Keywords: positive childhood experiences, adverse childhood experiences, traumatic exposure, juvenile offending

First Published November 11, 2020

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