Non-suicidal self-injury in adolescence: A longitudinal study of the relationship between NSSI, psychological distress and perceived parenting.


Objective: The present study investigates whether either adolescents’ psychological distress and/or perceived parenting predicted the occurrence of NSSI. Furthermore, the consequences of NSSI are examined in a three-wave longitudinal study. Design: The sample at time 1 (age 12) consisted of 1396 adolescent reports and 1438 parent reports. At time 2 (age 13), 827 adolescent reports and 936 parent reports were obtained. Time 3 (age 14) included 754 adolescent reports and 790 parent reports. Psychological distress of adolescents was measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Perceived parenting behaviors were examined by the Parental Behavior Scale and the Psychological Control Scale. Results: A total of 10% of the adolescents engaged in NSSI at least once before age 15. Higher psychological distress of adolescents at time 1 was associated with the presence of NSSI at time 2 or 3. The association between psychological distress at time 1 and perception of decreased parental rule setting at time 3 was mediated by the presence of NSSI at time 2. Conclusions: The present study showed that psychological distress at age 12 predicts NSSI over time and that parental awareness of NSSI changes the perception of parenting behaviors.