Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 784–795 | Cite as

Secure Base Representations among Inner-City Adolescents

  • Patricia A. RichardsonEmail author
  • Kelsey Sala-Hamrick
  • Valerie Simon
  • Douglas Barnett
Original Paper



Previous literature highlights attachment security as a key antecedent of early affective regulation that is frequently associated with positive socioemotional outcomes in early childhood. Less is known of attachment in adolescence, particularly within underserved, stress-exposed families. The current study investigated relations among adolescents’ secure base knowledge (an indicator of secure attachment), internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, and stress and trauma exposure.


Participants were 83 inner-city adolescents (ages 13–18 years; 72.3% African American) and one of their primary caregivers (75.9% biological mothers). Secure base knowledge was assessed utilizing the Attachment Script Assessment (ASA).


After controlling for adolescents’ exposure to potentially stressful or traumatic events, secure base knowledge uniquely predicted fewer internalizing, but not externalizing, problems. Analyses controlled for youth receptive vocabulary, age, and gender.


This study provides further evidence that youth attachment security contributes uniquely to fewer youth internalizing problems even within the context of numerous contextual risks. Furthermore, results add to the understanding the utility of the ASA among youth in an urban context.


Attachment Adolescence African Americans Stress and Trauma Resilience 


Author Contributions

P.A.R: designed and executed the study, conducted data analyses, and wrote the paper. K.S.H.: collaborated with the design and writing of the manuscript. V.S.: collaborated with the study design and writing of the manuscript. D.B.: collaborated in the design, analyses, writing of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board of Wayne State University.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain MedicineStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

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