Physical abuse after child protective services investigation and adolescent substance use

Julia M. Kobulsky, Megan R. Holmes, Susan Yoon, Adam T. Perzynski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

The longitudinal pathways connecting physical abuse and substance use in child welfare-involved adolescents, a population with multiple risk factors for substance use problems, remain unclear. This study examined the relation between self-reported physical abuse among adolescents investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS) and later substance use, with a particular focus on exposure to physical abuse after CPS investigation as a potential contributing factor to this relation. Using data from the first National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW-I), a path analysis was conducted on a sample of 1079 adolescents aged 11–15 years who had recently been investigated by CPS. At baseline and 18-month follow-up, youths self-reported past-year physical abuse using the Parent-Child Conflicts Tactic Scale and past 30-day substance use frequency. At baseline, youths self-reported current internalizing and externalizing problems to the Youth Self Report. Path analysis revealed no significant relation between physical abuse at baseline and substance use at 18 months. Physical abuse at baseline was associated with higher levels of concurrent substance use and externalizing problems, which in turn predicted higher substance use at 18 months. Furthermore, physical abuse and externalizing problems at baseline predicted physical abuse at 18 months, which in turn was related to higher substance use at 18 months. The findings suggest that physical abuse after CPS investigation contributes to the development of adolescent substance use behaviors. Results indicate a need for innovative efforts to prevent physical abuse after CPS investigation, as well as assessment and treatment of substance use and externalizing problems at the point of investigation, to reduce future substance use in child welfare-involved adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume71
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Behavioral problems
  • Child welfare
  • Longitudinal research
  • Physical maltreatment
  • Substance abuse
  • Youth

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