A narrative analysis of behaviorally troubled adolescents' life stories
The primary purpose of this study was to explore male and female street youths' life histories in order to gain insight into how early maltreatment experiences can lead to an alternative developmental path, which results in subsequent emotional and behavioural difficulties. Participants were asked to respond to an attachment questionnaire, summarize their life experiences in chapter format, discuss key events in their lives, provide information about their values and beliefs and project their
... and project their hture life histories. Data provided by the participants were analyzed on three dimensions: 1) story content, 2) developmental, and 3) interpretive framework analyses. The results of these analyses supported the findings reported in the maltreatment literature. Both gender groups reported dificulties in attaining educational, employment and relational success and demonstrated insecure attachment patterns. Gender groups differed, however, in the degree of trauma experienced, with females reporting more trauma than males, and in how they viewed themselves. Females tended to portray themselves as victims who had experienced revictimization whereas males demonstrated self-efficacy and adaptive resiliency as a result of their successfbl involvement in criminal and violent acts. The developmental analysis found that the males were more able to apply interpretive understanding to their life histories than the females, possibly because they had not experienced the same degree of ongoing trauma as the female participants. > iii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank the many people who patiently supported me through this process. Mom and Dad, thank you for your ongoing prayers and help and special thanks for all the support during the final crunch. Ward, Jeremy and Lu, Sandra and family thank you so much for your undying patience, support, and good humour. Special thanks to Josephine, who spent many an hour coloring beside her mom. I would also like to thank a wonderful supervisor, Dr. A. McKeough. Anne, you were a mentor, a guide, a counselor, a teacher, and a friend. My deepest thanks are extended to the principals, counselors and agencies that were willing to take time to help with this study. To the participants, 1 am gratefbl for your willingness to share your stories and for your desire that your participation might help other troubled youth. I would like to thank the wonderful friends who provided empathetic shoulders and calming words. Sharon, Lynn, Nicki, Tom & the boys, Louise, Pam, Marilyn, Todd, Tem and Jeff, Ray and Dorothybless your hearts. Sharon, I would also like to point out that it was not another three years of masochism, it was six! DEDICATION 1 would like to dedicate this work to the most precious gift I have ever received. Josephine, you are a constant joy and a vivid reminder of God's grace. I love you.