Psychological Consequences of Child Maltreatment in Homeless Adolescents: Untangling the Unique Effects of Maltreatment and Family Environment
Objective: This study examined the differential effects of various forms of abuse, as well as their combined effects. The study also sought to separate the factors uniquely associated with abuse from those associated with the more general problems present in an abusive family environment.
Methodology: Data were collected from 329 homeless adolescents. Preliminary analyses indicated some degree of matching for family background variables. Any differences in demographic or family characteristics were controlled for statistically.
Results: Chi-square analyses revealed significant differences across groups for rates of assault, rape, depression/dysthymia, and attempted suicide. Multivariate analyses (MANOVAs) indicated significant differences in severity of internalizing problems and cognitive problems. Without exception, the group with histories of both physical and sexual abuse exhibited the most severe symptomatology and was at greatest risk for revictimization. Multiple regression analyses suggested that abuse histories were predictive of internalizing problems while family characteristics were more predictive of externalizing problems.
Conclusions: The findings indicate that both abuse type and family characteristics contribute to the development of symptomatology. Future prospective and longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the sequelae of abuse, as well as the possible cause and effect relations between abuse, family characteristics, and psychological outcome. (Authors)
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