Given the association between child maltreatment and a host of negative behavioral consequences, there remains a need to continue to identify mechanisms underlying this association as a means of improving intervention efforts. The present study examined one potential mechanism, namely, disengagement coping. We asked 6- to 17-year-old maltreated (n = 249) and comparison (n = 133) youth questions about emotional experiences that induced sadness and anger, strategies they used to cope with those emotions, and behavioral functioning (i.e., behavioral problems and aggression). Maltreated adolescents reported higher levels of behavioral problems and aggression relative to comparison adolescents, and adolescents who disengaged from emotional situations reported more behavioral problems relative to those who did not disengage. Tests of mediation suggested that, for adolescent-age youth, part of the association between maltreatment status and behavioral problems was explained by disengagement. In children, maltreatment was not associated with disengagement or behavioral problems. Results have implications for understanding age-related differences in the emotional and behavioral consequences of maltreatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology