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Pathways from child maltreatment to internalizing problems: Perceptions of control asmediators and moderators

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2002

KERRY E. BOLGER
Affiliation:
University of Miami
CHARLOTTE J. PATTERSON
Affiliation:
University of Miami

Abstract

Using a prospective longitudinal design, we examined internalizing problems and perceptions of control in a community sample of 785 children, 59 of whom had been maltreated. Children's internalizing problems and perceptions of control were measured via self-report at annual assessments in third grade through seventh grade (modal ages 9–13 years). Children's experiences of multiple types of maltreatment were rated based on social service records, using a standard coding system. Results of longitudinal analyses examining the roles of specific types of maltreatment (neglect, harsh parenting, and sexual abuse) revealed that neglect and sexual abuse were each associated with more internalizing problems, especially among children who experienced both these maltreatment types. Neglected children reported higher levels of perceived external control than other children did. Sexual abuse was associated with higher levels of perceived external control, but only among children who had also been neglected. Results of mediation analyses showed that higher levels of perceived external control accounted substantially for associations between specific maltreatment types and children's internalizing problems. Results of moderator analyses revealed that, among maltreated children, greater perceived internal control predicted fewer internalizing problems, suggesting that perceived internal control functioned as a protective factor. Children maltreated early in life were less likely to have this protective characteristic. Results are discussed in terms of their implications for understanding the developmental consequences of specific and co-occurring types of maltreatment.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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