Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 116–130 | Cite as

Associations between Child Maltreatment, Harsh Parenting, and Sleep with Adolescent Mental Health

  • Brian H. CalhounEmail author
  • Ty A. Ridenour
  • Diana H. Fishbein
Original Paper


Youth who suffer from psychiatric disorders are at high risk for negative outcomes, including aggression and substance abuse. Although many youth with psychiatric disorders have endured harsh parenting and/or child maltreatment (CM), differential associations between these experiential factors have yet to be fully explored. Sleep problems have also been implicated in psychiatric disorders and are consistently associated with CM. The overlap and unique contributions of CM and sleep problems to the mental health of youth remains unclear; longitudinal studies from late childhood into adolescence, when psychiatric illnesses frequently onset, are rare. The current longitudinal study examined associations of CM, harsh parenting, and sleep problems with symptoms of four psychiatric disorders: Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression. Early adolescent youth with no history of substance use (N = 529) were sampled from a working class, medium-sized city in northern Kentucky, and an extensive battery of tests were administered to youth and a parent. CM was more strongly and consistently related to psychiatric disorder symptoms at baseline than was harsh parenting. Reports of harsh parenting were more strongly associated with externalizing symptoms than internalizing symptoms. Sleep problems were also positively associated with psychiatric disorder symptoms at baseline, but did not exacerbate the effects of CM or harsh parenting on symptom counts. Longitudinally, harsh parenting was more predictive of change in psychiatric symptoms two to three years later than was CM. The potential significance of childhood adversity and sleep problems for prevention of later mental health problems are discussed.


Psychiatric disorders Child maltreatment Harsh parenting Sleep Adolescence 


Author Contributions

BHC analyzed the data and wrote the method, results, and discussion sections. TAR collaborated in interpreting the data, editing of the paper, and served as a consultant for data analyses. DHF designed and executed the study, contributed to interpretations, wrote the introduction, and collaborated in editing the paper.


This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA034618) to Diana H. Fishbein.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board at RTI International and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian H. Calhoun
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ty A. Ridenour
    • 2
  • Diana H. Fishbein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.RTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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