Subtype and sex differences in children's maltreatment experiences and outcomes : four empirical analyses using the national survey of child and adolescent well-being dataset / Andrea Kohn Maikovich-Fong.

Maikovich-Fong, Andrea Kohn.
vii, 200 p. ; 29 cm.
Local subjects:
Penn dissertations -- Psychology.
Psychology -- Penn dissertations.
Millions of children are victimized by maltreatment each year in the United States. Although the body of research examining how maltreatment affects children's psychological development is growing, significant limitations remain. The four studies contained in this dissertation address questions that have not yet been adequately studied quantitatively with large, national youth samples. In different ways, these studies all aim to dissect the artificially homogenizing terms "child maltreatment" and "child maltreatment victim" by exploring how specific victim and maltreatment characteristics are associated with mental health functioning in this vulnerable population of youth. The first paper examines main and interactive effects of maltreatment subtype (physical, sexual, emotional abuse, or neglect) and victim sex on three domains of functioning---risky behavior, cognitive performance, and mental health---controlling for substantiation, multi-maltreatment, and maltreatment history. Among the findings are that sexually abused youth were most at risk for substance use, sexually abused boys were most at risk for not using protection during sexual intercourse, and neglected youth exhibited the most cognitive impairment. The second study utilizes the longitudinal nature of the dataset to explore the relationship between re-exposure to family violence and children's psychopathology. Results demonstrated that harsh physical discipline predicted child-specific changes in externalizing symptoms, whereas witnessing violence predicted child-specific changes in internalizing symptoms across time. The third and fourth studies focus on the subset of adolescent maltreatment victims who experienced sexual abuse, and explore two questions related to sex differences in victims' experiences and consequences of abuse. These studies found that child sex did not moderate the relationship between abuse characteristics and youth emotional and behavioral problems, and that girls and boys did not differ in their posttraumatic stress symptoms or symptom trajectories. These results suggest that there may not be a strong empirical basis for operating on the assumption that one sex is more vulnerable to negative consequences of abuse than the other, or that abuse affects girls and boys differently. The research and clinical implications of these studies are discussed throughout the dissertation.
Adviser: Anne Kazak.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Psychology) -- University of Pennsylvania, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Kazak, Anne, advisor.
University of Pennsylvania.
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