Fostering Resilient Development: Protective Factors Underlying Externalizing Trajectories of Maltreated Children

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Abstract

This study investigated patterns of the developmental trajectories of externalizing behavior problems among 449 young maltreated children (ages 4–5) over a period of approximately eight years and examined the roles of maltreatment and protective factors in shaping various trajectory patterns. Secondary research was conducted using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW-I). Latent class growth analysis identified three distinctive externalizing trajectory groups: high–decreasing (10%); moderate–increasing (13%); low–stable (77%). Physically or sexually abused children were more likely to be in the high–decreasing group whereas male and Black children were more likely to be in the moderate–increasing group. Child prosocial skills and caregiver well-being decreased the probability of membership in the high–decreasing group compared to the low–stable group. The findings suggest that, despite early exposure to trauma, many maltreated children display a low or normal level of externalizing behavior problems over time, providing empirical evidence of resilience in maltreated children. Interventions focusing on enhancing child prosocial skills and caregiver well-being may be helpful in lowering the risk of clinically significant externalizing behavior problems over the course of childhood among maltreated children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-452
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Keywords

  • Child maltreatment
  • Developmental trajectories
  • Externalizing behavior problems
  • Protective factors
  • Resiliency

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