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Multiple maltreatment, attribution of blame, and adjustment among adolescents

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2002

ROBIN MCGEE
Affiliation:
Valley Regional Hospital and Acadia University
DAVID WOLFE
Affiliation:
The University of Western Ontario
JAMES OLSON
Affiliation:
The University of Western Ontario

Abstract

The study examined the predictive utility of blame attributions for maltreatment. Integrating theory and research on blame attribution, it was predicted that self-blame would mediate or moderate internalizing problems, whereas other-blame would mediate or moderate externalizing problems. Mediator and moderator models were tested separately. Adolescents (N = 160, ages 11–17 years) were randomly selected from the open caseload of a child protection agency. Participants made global maltreatment severity ratings for each of physical abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and exposure to family violence. Participants also completed the Attribution for Maltreatment Interview (AFMI), a structured clinical interview that assessed self- and perpetrator blame for each type of maltreatment they experienced. The AFMI yielded five subscales: self-blaming cognition, self-blaming affect, self-excusing, perpetrator blame, and perpetrator excusing. Caretaker-reported (Child Behavior Checklist) and self-reported (Youth Self Report) internalizing and externalizing were the adjustment criteria. Controlling for maltreatment severity, the AFMI subscales explained significant variance in self-reported adjustment. Self-blaming affect was the most potent attribution, particularly among females. Attributions mediated maltreatment severity for self-reported adjustment but moderated it for caretaker-reported adjustment. The sophistication and relevance of blame attributions to adjustment are discussed, and implications for research and clinical practice are identified.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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