Child Maltreatment: Risk of Adjustment Problems and Dating Violence in Adolescence Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between child maltreatment, clinically relevant adjustment problems, and dating violence in a community sample of adolescents. METHOD: Adolescents from 10 high schools (N= 1,419; response rate = 62%) in southwestern Ontario completed questionnaires that assessed past maltreatment, current adjustment, and dating violence. Logistic regression was used to compare maltreated and nonmaltreated youths across outcome domains. RESULTS: One third (n = 462) of the school sample reported levels of maltreatment above the cutoff score on the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Girls with a history of maltreatment had a higher risk of emotional distress compared with girls without such histories (e.g., odds ratios [OR] for anger, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress-related problems were 7.1, 7.2, 9.3, and 9.8, respectively). They were also at greater risk of violent and nonviolent delinquency (OR = 2.7) and carrying concealed weapons (OR = 7.1). Boys with histories of maltreatment were 2.5 to 3.5 times as likely to report clinical levels of depression, posttraumatic stress, and overt dissociation as were boys without a maltreatment history. They also had a significantly greater risk of using threatening behaviors (OR = 2.8) or physical abuse (OR = 3.4) against their dating partners. CONCLUSIONS: Maltreatment is a significant risk factor for adolescent maladjustment and shows a differential pattern for male and female adolescents.

publication date

  • March 2001