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Child Dev. 1998 Aug;69(4):1171-97.

Peer relationships and self-esteem among children who have been maltreated.

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  • 1Cornell University, Family Life Development Center, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


A prospective longitudinal design was employed to assess risks associated with maltreatment in a representative community sample of 107 maltreated children and an equal number of nonmaltreated comparison children. Heightened difficulties in peer relationships and self-esteem were associated with greater severity and chronicity of maltreatment. For example, children who experienced chronic maltreatment were less well-liked by peers. Type of maltreatment was also related to specific aspects of children's adjustment. For instance, sexual abuse predicted low self-esteem, but not problems in peer relationships. Emotional maltreatment, on the other hand, was related to difficulties in peer relationships, but not to low self-esteem. Thus, the best predictions of specific aspects of children's adjustment were provided by considering timing, type, and severity of maltreatment. For some groups of maltreated children, having a good friend was associated with improvement over time in self-esteem.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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