Associations between connections to parents and friends and non-suicidal self-injury among adolescents: The mediating role of developmental assets

Lindsay A. Taliaferro, Sung Tae Jang, Nicholas J. Westers, Jennifer J. Muehlenkamp, Janis L. Whitlock, Barbara J. McMorris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Background: We tested a model that incorporated potential developmental assets through which connections to parents and friends reduce the likelihood of engaging in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) among adolescents. Method: Data came from the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey, a population-based survey of 8th, 9th, and 11th grade students (N = 119,452). Chi-square test, t-test, and correlations evaluated bivariate relationships between all variables. Indirect effects of three developmental assets (social competency, positive identity, and empowerment) were modeled simultaneously on associations between connections to parents and friends, and past-year NSSI. Results: Bivariate analyses demonstrated protective effects of parent and friend connections on NSSI and that all developmental assets were negatively associated with NSSI. After accounting for demographic variables and associations between developmental assets in a multiple mediator path model, connections to parents showed a stronger, negative direct relationship with NSSI than did connections to friends. Developmental assets, especially positive identity and empowerment, accounted for a greater proportion of the effect of connections to friends on NSSI than the effect of connections to parents. Finally, social competency was no longer significantly related to NSSI in the multiple mediator path model. Conclusion: Clinical efforts to prevent NSSI should focus on enhancing adolescents’ sense of positive identity and empowerment, as well as connections to parents and prosocial friends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-371
Number of pages13
JournalClinical child psychology and psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020



  • NSSI
  • adolescent
  • developmental assets
  • friend connectedness
  • parent connectedness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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