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Human Services


Tina Jaeckle


Child maltreatment, including physical abuse, neglect, emotional, and sexual abuse is a continuing social problem in the United States, resulting in a number of children who experience challenges with family and peer relationships in adolescence. Child neglect is one of the most common forms of abuse however, it is less likely to be investigated or substantiated than is physical abuse. Female child maltreatment in particular results in possible problems for victims with family and peer relationships in early adolescence. In 2015, state agencies reported an estimated 683,000 victims of child maltreatment, with two-thirds of this group representing child neglect victims. This study examined differences between reported child neglect and child physical abuse in predicting family and peer relationship problems among 12-year-old females. Relational theory provided a theoretical framework for this study's hypotheses. Records from the Midwest site of the LONGSCAN research project provided the archival data from a criterion sample of 68 12-year-old females. The hypotheses were there would be differences in adolescent mother-child and peer relationships between victims of neglect and victims of physical abuse. Data were analyzed using descriptive, correlational, and multiple regression analyses. The results of the analyses revealed the quality of the mother-child relationship was significantly related to both earlier neglect and to physical abuse. In the multiple regression, early child neglect was more predictive of the mother-child relationship in early adolescence than was child physical abuse. This study contributes to social change by directing those who develop and design policy and programs to place additional attention on child neglect interventions to promote family stability.

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