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Adverse childhood experiences can show lasting effects on physical and mental health. Major questions surround how children overcome adverse circumstances to prevent negative outcomes. A key factor determining resilience is likely to be cognitive interpretation (how children interpret the world around them). The cognitive interpretations of 1025 school children aged 10-12 years in a rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged area of South Africa were examined using the Cognitive Triad Inventory for Children (CTI-C). These were examined in relation to psychological functioning and perceptions of the school environment. Those with more positive cognitive interpretations had better psychological functioning on scales of depression, anxiety, somatization and sequelae of potentially traumatic events. Children with more negative cognitions viewed the school-environment more negatively. Children living in poverty in rural South Africa experience considerable adversity and those with negative cognitions are at risk for psychological problems. Targeting children's cognitive interpretations may be a possible area for intervention.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of adolescence

Publication Date





38 - 46


University of Oxford, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK; MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Wits Education Campus, 27 St. Andrews Road, Parktown 2193, South Africa; Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU), University College London and the Anna Freud Centre, 4-8 Rodney Street, N1 9JH, UK. Electronic address:


Humans, Cognition, Poverty, Students, Child, Vulnerable Populations, Rural Population, South Africa, Female, Male, Resilience, Psychological, Emotional Adjustment