The primary aim of the current study was to examine the longitudinal effects of ongoing physical abuse on the co-development of externalizing behavior problems and posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms among child welfare-involved adolescents. Using three waves of data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being, we performed unconditional and conditional parallel process latent growth curve modeling in a structural equation modeling framework. The study sample included 491 adolescents who were between 11 and 13 years of age at baseline. Higher levels of initial PTS symptoms were associated with higher levels of externalizing behavior problems, but the rate of change in PTS symptoms were not significantly associated with the rate of change in externalizing behavior problems over time. Although physical abuse was concurrently associated with both externalizing behavior problems and PTS symptoms at all assessment points, there were no lagged effects. Additionally, we found that physical abuse indirectly affects subsequent development of externalizing behavior problems and PTS symptoms through ongoing physical abuse. Findings highlight the comorbidity of externalizing behaviors and PTS symptoms among early adolescents in the child welfare system, underlining the importance of screening for and addressing these problems simultaneously. Findings also point to the need for continued assessment of and protection from ongoing physical abuse during adolescence.
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd
- Externalizing behavior problems
- Parallel process growth modeling
- Physical abuse
- Posttraumatic stress symptoms