Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

The Ohio State University

Cedarville University School or Department


First Advisor

Edna M. Menke


Health and environmental sciences, social sciences, psychology, school-aged, sheltered, homeless, stressors, coping


The purpose was to study the stressors, coping strategies, coping effectiveness, behavioral states, and gender differences of school-aged homeless children. The conceptual framework was Lazarus' and Folkman's (1984) stress and coping paradigm and child development perspectives.

A cross-sectional descriptive design was used. The sample consisted of 90 children and their mothers residing in shelters. The children ranged in age from 8 to 12 years, 46 were females and 44 were males, 65 were African-American, 23 were Caucasian, and it was the first time homeless for 55 of the families. Data were collected through interviews with the children using Homeless Sheltered Children Interview Schedule. The mothers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991) and a background information sheet.

Content analysis was used to delineate five categories of stressors and subcategories. The largest number of stressors was related to family (n = 325), followed by shelter (n = 235), and school (n = 231). Fewer stressors were related to the friend (n = 90) and self (n = 49) categories. Females identified significantly more total number of stressors compared to males.

The children's coping strategies were categorized using Ryan-Wenger's (1992) coping strategy taxonomy. The most frequently used were endurance, stressor modification, social support, emotional expression, behavioral avoidance and behavioral distraction. The least frequently used were cognitive distraction and cognitive problem-solving. Females identified significantly more total number of coping strategies and more number of coping strategies for the shelter stressors than males.

The majority of the coping strategies (80%) were perceived as effective. The coping strategies for the friend stressors have the highest percentage (85%) of being effective, followed by shelter (84%), school (81%), self (79%) and family stressors (74%). Stressor modification was the most frequently used effective coping strategies. The aggressive activities and endurance were frequently used ineffective categories. Females reported significantly more number of effective coping strategies than males.

No significant gender differences were found for the Total, Internalizing and Externalizing CBCL scores. The children using information seeking coping strategies for the family stressors (CBCL scores = 70), and the children using self-controlling activities coping strategies for the self stressors (CBCL scores = 64) had clinical range CBCL scores.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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