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Perception of Maltreatment: Gender-Specific Mental Health Outcomes Associated with Maltreatment as Most Upsetting Experience

  • Melissa K. PeckinsEmail author
  • Sonya Negriff
  • Jonathan M. Reader
  • Elizabeth J. Susman
Chapter
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)

Abstract

The following study expands Dr. Penelope Trickett’s research on the heterogeneity in outcomes related to childhood maltreatment by testing the associations between perception of maltreatment as adolescents’ most upsetting experience and mental health symptoms. We expected adolescents who reported maltreatment (vs. nonmaltreatment) as their most upsetting experience would experience greater internalizing and externalizing behavior problems across adolescence. We also expected emotionally abused/neglected youth compared to sexually/physically abused youth would fare better when reporting a maltreatment (vs. nonmaltreatment) most upsetting experience. Hypotheses were tested with data collected from 303 maltreated (n = 151 girls) adolescents across four waves of measurement. Trajectories of depression and anxiety symptoms differed for girls reporting maltreatment versus nonmaltreatment as their most upsetting experience. Boys reporting maltreatment (vs. nonmaltreatment) as their most upsetting experience had lower levels of aggression and rule breaking behavior at wave 1. Findings from the present study are relevant for clinicians as an indicator of risk for mental health problems and suggest tailored treatment plans for boys versus girls. Findings from the present study should be used to support legislation that prioritizes children and their families, providing resources to limit the traumatic nature of maltreatment in order to reduce the short- and long-term mental health consequences associated with perceptions of maltreatment as upsetting.

Keywords

Child maltreatment Maltreatment perception Internalizing problems Externalizing behavior Gender differences 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Penelope K. Trickett for her mentorship during the preparation of this manuscript and for making this research possible. We also thank the children and their families who participated in this research. Support for this research was provided by the NICHD (R01 HD 039129) and NIDA (R01 Da24569-01A2). The first author was supported by a NICHD T32 Fellowship in Developmental Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan (2T32 HD007109-36). The third author was supported by DHHS NIH grants through the Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University (P50 DA039838 and T32 DA017629).

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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa K. Peckins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sonya Negriff
    • 2
  • Jonathan M. Reader
    • 3
  • Elizabeth J. Susman
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.University of Southern California, Dworak-Peck School of Social WorkLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biobehavioral HealthThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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