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Developmental transitions in presentations of externalizing problems among boys and girls at risk for child maltreatment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2014

Miguel T. Villodas
Affiliation:
Florida International University
Alan J. Litrownik
Affiliation:
San Diego State University
Richard Thompson
Affiliation:
Juvenile Protective Association
Deborah Jones
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Scott C. Roesch
Affiliation:
San Diego State University
Jon M. Hussey
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Stephanie Block
Affiliation:
University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Diana J. English
Affiliation:
University of Washington
Howard Dubowitz
Affiliation:
University of Maryland
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

The present study examined the impact of children's maltreatment experiences on the emergence of externalizing problem presentations among children during different developmental periods. The sample included 788 youth and their caregivers who participated in a multisite, prospective study of youth at-risk for maltreatment. Externalizing problems were assessed at ages 4, 8, and 12, and symptoms and diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder were assessed at age 14, during interviews with youth and caregivers. Information about maltreatment allegations was coded from official records. Latent transition analysis identified three groups of youth with similar presentations of externalizing problems (“well adjusted,” “hyperactive/oppositional,” and “aggressive/rule-breaking”) and transitions between groups from ages 4, 8, and 12. A “defiant/deceitful” group also emerged at age 12. Girls were generally more likely to present as well adjusted than boys. Children with recent physical abuse allegations had an increased risk for aggressive/rule-breaking presentations during the preschool and preadolescent years, while children with sexual abuse or neglect allegations had lower probabilities of having well-adjusted presentations during middle childhood. These findings indicate that persistently severe aggressive conduct problems, which are related to the most concerning outcomes, can be identified early, particularly among neglected and physically and sexually abused children.

Type
Special Section Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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