The goals of the present study were to (1.) examine maltreated children's functioning at multiple levels of the peer ecology; (2.) identify mechanisms underlying the link between child maltreatment and peer functioning; (3.) investigate gender-specific pathways to peer functioning; and (4.) explore the moderating role of prosocial behavior. Participants included 167 maltreated children and 173 demographically-matched nonmaltreated children ages 6-14 (M = 10.35, SD = 1.60) who attended a summer day camp research program designed for school-aged, low-income children. Counselor-, peer-, and self-reports of social behaviors and peer functioning were obtained. Path analysis showed that, among boys, maltreatment predicted low levels of prosocial behavior, which, in turn, increased risk for peer rejection, relational victimization, and physical victimization. In addition, physical aggression mediated the association between maltreatment and peer rejection among boys. For girls, maltreatment indirectly predicted relational victimization via deficient prosocial behavior. Finally, analysis of moderated mediation showed that maltreatment predicted elevated levels of physical aggression, which in turn, predicted low levels of relational victimization among maltreated boys who displayed high levels of prosocial behavior. Overall, findings suggest that maltreatment disrupts behavioral development, increasing risk for impaired peer functioning.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2015. Major: Child Psychology. Advisor: Dante Cicchetti. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 95 pages.
Pathways from Child Maltreatment to Peer Functioning: Examining the Roles of Aggression, Withdrawal, and Prosocial Behavior.
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