Resilience and Vulnerability: Adaptation in the Context of Childhood Adversities

By Suniya S. Luthar | Go to book overview

7
Sequelae of Child Maltreatment
Vulnerability and Resilience

Kerry E. Bolger and Charlotte J. Patterson

To grow into competent and productive adults, children must learn to regulate their emotions and their behavior, to form a coherent, positive sense of self, and to form and maintain relationships with other people. A substantial body of evidence indicates that consistent, responsive parenting contributes to children's ability to master these developmental tasks (Lord, Eccles, & McCarthy, 1994; Raver, 1996). In maltreating families, however, parental care does not meet children's basic needs for physical sustenance and protection, emotional security, and social interaction. Thus, maltreatment constitutes a significant deviation from the average expectable or species-typical environment, as defined by community norms and by medical, legal, and social scientific standards (National Research Council, 1993). Developmental theory on the influence of early caregiving predicts that such conditions predispose children to a variety of difficulties in adjustment and adaptation (Cicchetti & Lynch, 1995; Scarr, 1992).

Empirical evidence supports this contention: Maltreatment during childhood is associated with an increased risk for internalizing problems, such as depression and anxiety (Lynch & Cicchetti, 1998; McGee, Wolfe, & Wilson, 1997; Toth, Manly, & Cicchetti, 1992), and externalizing problems including aggression, delinquency, and antisocial behavior (Herrenkohl, Egolf, & Herrenkohl, 1997; Widom, 1989). Maltreated

Support for this research was provided by grants from the Office on Child Abuse and
Neglect, the Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The
authors wish to thank Janis B. Kupersmidt, Pamela C. Griesler, and Nancy Vaden-Kiernan
for their contributions to the Charlottesville Longitudinal Study.

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