Neglected Children Struggle Academically

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY of Queensland research has found children who have been abused or neglected are likely to struggle academically during adolescence.

The research drew upon data from the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy, a longitudinal study of more than 7000 mothers and their children born at Brisbane's Mater Hospital from 1981-83.

Lead author and paediatrician Ryan Mills said the study involved confidentially linking allegations of maltreatment reported to the Department of Families, Youth and Community Care with the MUSP database.

"Both child abuse and child neglect are independently associated with impaired cognition and academic functioning in adolescence," Dr Mills said.

"These findings suggest that both abuse and neglect have independent and important adverse effects on a child's cognitive development."

The MUSP database provided results of numeracy, literacy and abstract reasoning tests completed by 3796 adolescents at age 14.

The 298 adolescents (7.9%) who had been reported as victims of maltreatment scored the equivalent of about three IQ points lower than those who had not been maltreated, after accounting for a large range of socioeconomic and other factors.

Co-author Lane Strathearn, a UQ medical and PhD graduate now based at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, said this study was one of the first to analyse outcomes of abuse and neglect independently. …