Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


McCleon, Tawny E.

Committee Member

Henington, Carlen

Committee Member

Morse, David

Committee Member

Mazahreh, Laith

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Educational Psychology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Beginning prior to the foundational study conducted by Felitti et al. (1998), individuals of all ages have been exposed to a variety of traumatic events that had the capacity to alter overall functioning in a variety of ways. Children and adolescents are a vulnerable subset of individuals who are often exposed to various types of trauma which has the capacity to impact academic, behavioral, and social/emotional functioning (Cohen, Berliner, & Mannarino, 2010). The adverse effects related to trauma exposure in children and adolescents have been correlated with externalizing and internalizing disorders, and decreased academic performance (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). An individual’s proximity, or closeness, to traumatic events has also been correlated with increased negative outcomes to include meeting diagnostic criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is a gap in the literature, however, in determining the relationship between proximity to traumatic events and its impact on academic functioning in elementary students. The present study sought to analyze the relationship between PTSD symptomology and academic achievement in elementary students while determining if proximity was a moderating factor in the hypothesized relationship. Participants included 81 children in Grades 3 through 5 enrolled in elementary schools in a school district in the Southeastern United States. Linear regression analyses indicated the hypothesized relationship between PTSD symptomology and academic achievement was nonsignificant. However, when proximity was included as a moderator the increase in variance of explanation of the relationship was noted to be significant. Implications of these results suggest that inclusion of proximity as a pertinent contributor to adverse reactions may be imperative in engaging in prevention, intervention, and postvention strategies for elementary students exposed to trauma.