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Trauma Violence Abuse. 2015 Oct;16(4):418-37. doi: 10.1177/1524838014537908. Epub 2014 Jun 11.

Childhood Maltreatment and Educational Outcomes.

Author information

1
University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada eromano@uottawa.ca.
2
University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

Children (0-18 years) with maltreatment histories are vulnerable to experiencing difficulties across multiple domains of functioning, including educational outcomes that encompass not only academic achievement but also mental well-being. The current literature review adopted Slade and Wissow's model to examine (1) the link between childhood maltreatment and academic achievement, (2) the link between childhood maltreatment and mental health outcomes (i.e., emotional and behavioral difficulties), and (3) the bidirectional relationship between childhood academic achievement and mental health. In addition, we reviewed variables that might influence or help explain the link between childhood maltreatment and educational outcomes, drawing on developmental perspectives and Bronfenbrenner's ecological model. Finally, whenever possible, we presented findings specific to maltreated children in out-of-home care to highlight the unique challenges experienced by this population. Results indicated that children with maltreatment histories often experience impairments in both their academic performance (e.g., special education, grade retention, lower grades) and mental well-being (e.g., anxiety, low mood, aggression, social skills deficits, poor interpersonal relationships). These impairments appeared to be particularly pronounced among maltreated children in out-of-home care. Findings, albeit sparse, also indicated that mental health difficulties are negatively associated with children's academic achievement and, similarly, that academic achievement deficits are linked with mental health problems. The link between childhood maltreatment and educational outcomes may be partly explained through the disruption of key developmental processes in children, such as attachment, emotion regulation, and sense of agency. As well, maltreatment characteristics and the functioning of various systems in which children are embedded (e.g., family, school, child welfare) can serve to positively or negatively influence the educational outcomes of maltreated children. The theoretical, research, and applied implications stemming from the findings are considered.

KEYWORDS:

achievement; adolescents; child welfare; children; education; maltreatment; mental health

PMID:
24920354
DOI:
10.1177/1524838014537908
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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