The goals of this study are to evaluate the impact of a distressed environment on self-esteem in Jamaican adolescent girls and to assess the impact of behavioural patterns on self-esteem. Participants were African-Jamaicans ages 13–17 years from a Place of Safety (experimental group) and local high schools (control group). All participants completed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) while the experimental group also completed the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). Participants in the experimental group were classified as either internalizers (depressed, anxious and somatizing), externalizers (exhibiting aggressive, disruptive behaviours), both (externalizers and internalizers) or other (reporting no or very few symptoms). It was hypothesized that the participants residing in the Place of Safety would report lower levels of self-esteem in comparison to the control group. Secondly, the ‘both’ group would report lower levels of self-esteem than any other group. Results indicated no differences in selfesteem scores; however, statistical significance was found between ‘externalizers’ and ‘both’ groups (p = 0.006). This study challenges the assumptions of self-esteem and its relationship to behavioural and emotional problems.