The present article examines the role of poly-victimization (i.e., number of categories of maltreatment experiences and total maltreatment exposure) in predicting differences in appraisals for 272 youth in foster care (ages 8–21). Poly-victimization was hypothesized to be predictive of negative appraisal valence (i.e., interpreting the impact of a stressful life event as being bad/negative) and appraisal rigidity (i.e., interpreting the impact of life events as being consistently positive or negative across different events) above and beyond any single category of maltreatment. Results show a high prevalence of poly-victimization, such that those youth who experience only one form of maltreatment (e.g., physical, sexual, psychological, or neglect) are among the minority of maltreated youth. Additionally, results show that total maltreatment exposure, accounting for not only different categories of maltreatment but also different types or forms of maltreatment within those broader categories, is the most predictive of negative appraisal valence, above and beyond single categories of maltreatment and number of categories of maltreatment experienced. Contrary to the study's hypothesis, neither total exposure nor number of maltreatment categories experienced is significantly predictive of appraisal rigidity above and beyond single categories. Correlations also show that less rigid or more flexible appraisals are associated with more maltreatment experiences than are rigid appraisals. The current study highlights the importance of examining maltreatment from a poly-victimization perspective and begins to explain why some youth have more negative appraisals than others.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health