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The effect of physical abuse on children's social and affective status: A model ofcognitive and behavioral processes explaining the association

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2002

SUZANNE SALZINGER
Affiliation:
New York State Psychiatric Institute; and Columbia University
RICHARD S. FELDMAN
Affiliation:
New York State Psychiatric Institute; and Columbia University
DAISY S. NG-MAK
Affiliation:
New York State Psychiatric Institute; and Columbia University
ELENA MOJICA
Affiliation:
New York State Psychiatric Institute; and Columbia University
TANYA F. STOCKHAMMER
Affiliation:
New York State Psychiatric Institute; and Columbia University

Abstract

This study proposes a model explaining the association between physical abuse of children and children's social and affective status as one in which children's social expectations and behavior, developed within the context of abusive parenting, mediate current functioning in these two outcome domains. Subjects included one hundred 9 to 12-year-old physically abused children recruited from consecutive entries onto the New York State Register for Child Abuse for New York City and 100 case-matched classmate nonabused comparison children. Sociometric assessments were carried out in classrooms, interviews were conducted with the children and their parents, and teachers, parents, and classmates rated the children's behavior. Path analysis was utilized to test the conceptually derived models. Children's social expectations regarding peers, and two social behaviors—aggressive behavior and prosocial behavior—were found to mediate between abuse and positive and negative social status, as well as between abuse and positive and negative reciprocity. Social expectations and withdrawn behavior mediated between abuse and positive social status, but only where withdrawn behavior was a function of social expectations. Social expectations were generally found to mediate between abuse and internalizing problems. Negative social status (peer rejection) added to social expectations in producing internalizing problems. Identification of these mediating pathways can serve to guide secondary preventive intervention efforts so that they best address the problems abused children face in the absence of adequate parental and peer support as the children enter adolescence.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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