Prevalence and predictors of benevolent childhood experiences among a representative sample of young people

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Emerging research evidence suggests that benevolent childhood experiences (BCEs) may partly explain more favourable mental health outcomes among individuals affected by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). However, much of this research has focused on adult populations. Consequently, this study sought to provide the first rigorous assessment of the prevalence and predictors of BCEs using a nationally representative sample of young people from Northern Ireland (NI). Participants were 11–19-years-olds (N = 1293) who participated in the NI Youth Wellbeing Prevalence Survey (NI-YWS, 2020). Prevalence rates, gender differences and predictors of BCEs were investigated. Results revealed how most of the sample experienced multiple BCEs (95%, n = 1084), with females reporting higher levels of BCEs. Significant positive predictors of BCEs were female gender, parental education, living with both biological parents, and living in areas with lower deprivation, while significant negative predictors of BCEs included family being in receipt of social welfare and older age. Overall, this study highlights how BCEs are common, while the identification of factors associated with likelihood of having positive experiences during early development provides novel insights into those young people who may be at greater risk for maladaptive psychological outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Early online date9 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 9 Nov 2022


  • adolescence
  • benevolent childhood experiences
  • childhood
  • resilience


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