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Dataset Details

Adolescent Outcome of Physically Abused Schoolchildren

Dataset Number: 117


Investigator(s)

Suzanne Salzinger, Ph.D.
New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY

Richard Feldman, Ph.D.
New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY

Daisy S. Ng-Mak, Ph.D.
Columbia University, New York, NY

Abstract

This study is designed to assess the outcomes in mid to late adolescence of preadolescent physically abused and matched non-maltreated children first studied at ages 9-12 years. The outcome domains were Externalizing Problem Behavior, Internalizing Problems and Emotional Disorder, Quality of Personal Relationships, Risk Behavior, and Aggression/Delinquency. For each, a model was proposed in which the path from preadolescent physical abuse to outcome is examined with respect to three classes of mediating variables hypothesized to protect against or exacerbate the effects of the abuse. These classes of mediators, comprised of variables chosen on the basis of the contributors' previous abuse studies and other data in the child development literature, were all measured in preadolescence. They are conceptualized as individual (e.g., behavior problems, social behavior, social cognition), interpersonal (e.g., social status among peers, attachment, parenting), and contextual (e.g., family adversity, maternal psychopathology). Each model is retested with preadolescent exposure to family violence and parental perceptions of community violence added to child abuse as the causal variable.

The children studied as adolescents were re-recruited from the 100 confirmed cases of physical abuse first recruited when they were preadolescents from the NYC Child Welfare Administration Register and 100 non-maltreated classmates matched case by case for gender, age, ethnicity, and SES. They were assessed in preadolescence by means of classroom sociometry and peer behavior ratings, by individual child interviews, by teacher and parent ratings of behavior, and by parent interviews and questionnaires on family demographics, adversity, family conflict, including domestic violence, and on parenting discipline practices. The assessments of outcome, as close as possible to age 17, were carried out by means of adolescent interviews and questionnaires, teacher and parent ratings, parent interviews and questionnaires, and an interview and questionnaire administered to a best friend of each adolescent.Preliminary results show that the abused adolescents continue to be at higher risk than controls for a variety of poor outcomes such as behavior problems, depression, delinquency, and some high-risk behaviors. It also appears that they are more likely to be exposed to family violence in adolescence.

Not all abused children have poor outcomes, but as a group, they are demonstrably at risk. This study's main purpose was to identify some important factors influencing the path from preadolescent abuse to adolescent outcome and thereby to target possible points where intervention in childhood might avert some of abuse's costly individual and societal consequences. Those analyses are currently underway.

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