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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name


First Advisor

Barbara A. Pieper


Forgiveness, a spiritual phenomenon, has not been investigated as a factor in delinquency prevention in youth. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among forgiveness, anger, substance use, and delinquent acts in adolescents who have Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The specific aims were to examine the link between forgiveness and mental and social health outcomes; examine forgiveness and its relationship with anger and delinquent behaviors; and determine the relationship among forgiveness, demographic characteristics, increased risk of developing substance use disorder and risk for incarceration.

This was a descriptive correlational study. Demographic questions, Children and Adolescent Trauma Screen (CATS), the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI), Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) anger scale, Australian Self Report Delinquency Scale-Revised (ASRDS-R), and Car, Relax, Alone, Alone, Friends, Trouble (CRAFFT) Screening Interview were administered to adolescent males (N = 125) who were enrolled in the Career and College Ready (C2) Pipeline program in 13 high schools.

These adolescent males included Black (85%), Christians (72%), mean age 17, who lived in Detroit area’s Wayne and Macomb counties, respectively (46% and 29%). They had an average of 3.79 ACEs (SD = 2.19). Primary analyses yielded weak, non-significant correlations between forgiveness and the study variables- anger, substance use, and delinquent acts. Secondary analyses yielded significant results between participants who expressed true and pseudo forgiveness with the variables anger and forgiveness (p < .001 and p = .025). Clinical findings were high probable or actual substance use disorder (n = 64), high risk for incarceration (n = 26), higher anger, and the need to forgive. Spiritual findings related to the variable anger (M = 17.46; SD = 6.66) for participants who expressed Christian religion. With adjustments related to the limitations and methodological challenges, replicating this research study may yield higher correlations and statistically significant p values between the study variables. Adolescents who have ACEs may not have forgiven those who caused harm resulting in maladaptive delinquent behaviors. Future research should test forgiveness interventions. Implications for nursing include: adding forgiveness in the nursing classification system and nursing curriculum; exploring the relationship between forgiveness and nursing diagnosis Spiritual Distress; exploring forgiveness as a protective factor associated with delinquent behaviors; examining collaborative research among nursing, criminal justice professionals, divinity programs, and mental/behavioral health professionals; and designing preventive interventions for adolescents related to spirituality and spiritual factors.

Key words: forgiveness, ACEs, spiritual, delinquent behaviors, nursing, adolescents

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