Externalized and internalized manifestations of child maltreatment Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/cc08hk00b

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  • Although child maltreatment has been studied for several decades, there are still substantial gaps of understanding essential areas such as the consequences of child maltreatment and the variability in the impact of different types of maltreatment. This study examined whether externalization and internalization are two valid and distinctive dimensions in understanding problem behaviors, and investigated the relations between three types of child abuse and a wide range of problematic symptoms. Survey data were collected from six public high schools in a rural southwestern Oregon County (N = 1,042) on experience of abuse (emotional, physical and sexual), externalized symptoms (use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, number of sexual partners and gang involvement), and internalized symptoms (suicide ideation, depression, negative self image and social isolation). Data were analyzed using structural equation models for male and female adolescents. Results indicated that the wide range of problematic symptoms can be best understood as two distinctive and valid dimensions, externalization and internalization. Consistent with results of previous studies, results of this study confirmed a moderate to strong association between abuse and all of the externalized and internalized behaviors. For male adolescents, emotional abuse had a significantly stronger relationship to internalization than to externalization. The direct effects of physical abuse on externalization and internalization, which were both negative, were not significantly different. The effect of sexual abuse was significantly stronger for externalization than for internalization. For female adolescents, the effect of emotional abuse on internalization was significantly stronger for internalization than for externalization. The effect of physical abuse was significantly stronger for externalization than for internalization. The effect of sexual abuse was significantly stronger for internalization than for externalization. Gender differences were found in all relations between types of abuse and externalization and internalization except for the relation between emotional abuse and internalization. Significantly different and opposite gammas were found between physical abuse and externalization and internalization for males and female adolescents. Sexual abuse was the strongest predictor for male adolescent's externalization and internalization whereas sexual abuse was a strong predicator only for female adolescent's internalization. Limitations of the current study and implications for future research and practice are also addressed.
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