Predictors of resilience in abused and neglected children grown-up: the role of individual and neighborhood characteristics

Kimberly A DuMont, Cathy Spatz Widom, Sally J Czaja
Child Abuse & Neglect 2007, 31 (3): 255-74

PURPOSE: This paper examines individual, family, and neighborhood level predictors of resilience in adolescence and young adulthood and describes changes in resilience over time from adolescence to young adulthood in abused and neglected children grown up.

METHOD: We use documented cases of childhood physical and sexual abuse and neglect (n=676) from a Midwestern county area during the years 1967-1971 and information from official records, census data, psychiatric assessments, and self-reports obtained through 1995. Analyses involve logistic regressions, replicated with Mplus to test for possible contextual effects.

RESULTS: Almost half (48%) of the abused and neglected children in adolescence and nearly one-third in young adulthood were resilient. Over half of those who were resilient in adolescence remained resilient in young adulthood, whereas 11% of the non-resilient adolescents were resilient in young adulthood. Females were more likely to be resilient during both time periods. Being white, non-Hispanic decreased and growing up in a stable living situation increased the likelihood of resilience in adolescence, but not in young adulthood. Stressful life events and a supportive partner promoted resilience in young adulthood. Neighborhood advantage did not exert a direct effect on resilience, but moderated the relationship between household stability and resilience in adolescence and between cognitive ability and resilience in young adulthood.

CONCLUSIONS: Ecological factors appear to promote or interfere with the emergence and stability of resilience following childhood maltreatment.

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