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Invisible child maltreatment and long-term social harm
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Working paper

Invisible child maltreatment and long-term social harm

A social psychological study of PTSD based on national samples

Research questions
Research on child maltreatment has suggested that children exposed to abuse and neglect exhibit various social, cognitive and emotional developmental problems. The paper explores long-term consequences and addresses the following questions: how many is exposed to child maltreatment without the knowledge of the local authorities? Will young adults suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), if they have been exposed to child maltreatment? Will social support from a significant other reduce the developmental problems despite all odds?
Three separate datasets were used: A sampling frame was established on the basis of a nationwide register including all children born in 1984 (N=2,989). The sample was a stratified random probability sample of adolescents born in 1984. Another sample of 900 children was drawn at random among social services cases and evaluated. The third consisted of hospital registers including all children born 1994-2006 which was analyzed to estimate the number of cases of child maltreatment known to the local authorities and the hospitals’ wards (N=914,800 children).
Most child-maltreatment is invisible for local authorities and hospital wards. While 5.6 percent of the birth cohort experienced physical abuse only 1.1 percent of a birth cohort was known to the local authorities, and only 0.1 percent of a birth cohort registered at a hospital ward. Less than half of child maltreatment known to the local authorities was reduced according to their files.
The multivariate study found that child maltreatment is significantly associated with high risk of PTSD in young adults when interviewed 25-years old, mediators or other risk factors taken into account.
The study confirms that social support for great many of the young adults is associated with a reduced risk of PTSD symptoms even when experienced poor parenting with the destructiveness of physical abuse, sexual assault, psychological maltreatment and physical neglect. ADHD symptoms turn out to be associated with later PTSD also when accounted for poor parenting and other risk factors. The study confirms that social support is statistical mediator between child maltreatment (abuse and neglect) and later PTSD reactions among young adults.
Forfattere Mogens Christoffersen
Udgivelsesdato 27.06.2011
Sprog Dansk
Publikationsnr. WP 03:2011

Denne publikation hører under Børn, unge og familie, Udsatte grupper
emneord: Udsatte børn og unge, Familiemønstre

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