Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Gerald Fuller

Abstract

U.S. and world communities face the challenges of understanding how children grieve and of giving them sufficient social and educational support. Inner-city minority adolescents have not been represented well in the bereavement and attachment literature. The purpose of the quantitative study was to use the attachment theory to understand the impact of parental bereavement on these adolescents. Data were collected using the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI), the Piers-Harris Children's Self- Concept Scale (2nd ed.), and school records. MANOVAs were used to analyze the influence of attachment organization, bereavement status, and gender on self-concept and academic and behavioral functioning in school. Results indicated that securely attached adolescents functioned better across all 3 variables than did insecure and unresolved/disorganized adolescents. There were no differences in functioning in the bereaved group according to attachment organization. Results according to gender indicated that although the female participants experienced more academic success and had fewer behavioral difficulties in school, their self-concept was more negative than was that of their male counterparts. There were no differences in functioning in the bereaved group according to gender, but compared to the entire sample, the bereaved females no longer functioned better than males, academically or behaviorally, and there were no longer differences in self-concept. Possible positive social changes from these findings include improvements in school-related student support such as promoting the use of the AAI, linking educational and clinical environments, and assisting schools in developing safe-base classroom environments that could better meet students' needs according to their attachment organization and bereavement status.