Recent research highlights the use of artificial boundaries between distinct types of adverse experiences, including forms of maltreatment. Commonly-utilized methods that isolate the impact of one maltreatment subtype over others and fail to consider the often co-occurring nature of maltreatment may not adequately capture the complex heterogeneous nature of maltreatment and may obscure understanding of developmental pathways. Moreover, childhood maltreatment is associated with the development of maladaptive peer relationships and psychopathology, with negative conceptions of relationships identified as a risk pathway. The current study utilizes structural equation modeling to examine the impact of an adapted threat versus deprivation framework for conceptualizing maltreatment via children’s negative conceptions of relationships, which have not been previously tested as mechanisms in the context of this conceptual framework. Participants included 680 socioeconomically disadvantaged children who attended a week-long summer camp. Multi-informant methods were used to assess children’s symptomatology and interpersonal functioning. Results did not support differences between threatening versus depriving maltreatment experiences, but indicated that all groups of children who experienced maltreatment, including those enduring both threatening and depriving experiences, showed more maladaptive functioning and more negative conceptions of relationships relative to non-maltreated peers. Results of the current study support the mediating role of children’s appraisals of the self and peers in the effect of maltreatment on children’s internalizing and externalizing symptomatology.
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We are grateful to the Jacobs Foundation (to D.C.), National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute on Mental Health (R01-DA01774; R01-MH083979 to D.C.), National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (P50-HD096698 to S.L.T and D.C.) for their support of this work. Thank you to the individuals who participated in the research.
Address correspondence to: Andrew J. Ross or Elizabeth D. Handley, Mt. Hope Family Center, 187 Edinburgh Street, Rochester, NY 14608. Emails: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The original online version of this article was revised: The names of two of my co-authors, Elizabeth D. Handley and Dante Cicchetti, are mispelled as Elizabeth D. "Ha" and Dante "Cicchett" respectively.
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Ross, A.J., Handley, E.D., Toth, S.L. et al. The Role of Peer- and Self-Appraisals in the Association Between Maltreatment and Symptomatology. Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol 51, 1289–1301 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-023-01083-8