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Child neglect and its relation to emotional and behavioral problems: A cross-sectional study of primary school-aged children in Tanzania


Hecker, Tobias; Boettcher, Victoria S; Landolt, Markus A; Hermenau, Katharin (2018). Child neglect and its relation to emotional and behavioral problems: A cross-sectional study of primary school-aged children in Tanzania. Development and Psychopathology:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Child maltreatment is known to engender negative emotional and behavioral consequences. Although neglect is the most frequent form of maltreatment, it has thus far only received little attention, especially when looking at low-resource countries. The current study investigated possible associations between neglect and internalizing and externalizing problems. As neglect and abuse often co-occur, the latter was controlled for. In total, 409 Tanzanian primary school students (52% boys, M = 10.5 years, range = 6-15) participated in the cross-sectional study. Structured clinical interviews were conducted assessing maltreatment, internalizing problems, and externalizing problems. Overall, 31% (n = 128) of the children reported at least one type of physical neglect and 31% (n = 127) of emotional neglect. Using structural equation modeling, we found a significant association between neglect and internalizing (β = 0.59, p < .01) and externalizing problems (β = 0.35, p < .05). However, these associations could only be detected in younger children (ages 6-9), whereas in older children (ages 10-15), mental health problems were significantly related to violence and abuse. Our findings suggest that the current age may influence the association between maltreatment type and the development of internalizing and/or externalizing problems.

Abstract

Child maltreatment is known to engender negative emotional and behavioral consequences. Although neglect is the most frequent form of maltreatment, it has thus far only received little attention, especially when looking at low-resource countries. The current study investigated possible associations between neglect and internalizing and externalizing problems. As neglect and abuse often co-occur, the latter was controlled for. In total, 409 Tanzanian primary school students (52% boys, M = 10.5 years, range = 6-15) participated in the cross-sectional study. Structured clinical interviews were conducted assessing maltreatment, internalizing problems, and externalizing problems. Overall, 31% (n = 128) of the children reported at least one type of physical neglect and 31% (n = 127) of emotional neglect. Using structural equation modeling, we found a significant association between neglect and internalizing (β = 0.59, p < .01) and externalizing problems (β = 0.35, p < .05). However, these associations could only be detected in younger children (ages 6-9), whereas in older children (ages 10-15), mental health problems were significantly related to violence and abuse. Our findings suggest that the current age may influence the association between maltreatment type and the development of internalizing and/or externalizing problems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:26 March 2018
Deposited On:28 Mar 2018 11:08
Last Modified:31 Jul 2018 06:11
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0954-5794
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579417001882
PubMed ID:29576033
Project Information:

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