Award Date

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Department

Psychology

Advisor 1

Christopher Kearney, Committee Chair

First Committee Member

Jeffrey Kern

Second Committee Member

Laurel Pritchard

Graduate Faculty Representative

Margaret Oakes

Number of Pages

174

Abstract

Child maltreatment affects thousands of youths in the United States and poses numerous detrimental effects to individuals, families, and the community. Neglect is the most commonly reported and least studied form of child maltreatment. All types of child maltreatment may result in negative outcomes, but the chronic and pervasive nature of child neglect poses a significant threat to child development. No studies have been published evaluating the role of child neglect in the development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and PTSD-related symptoms. This study examined whether neglect has an additive traumatic effect on maltreated youth. The first hypothesis was that youths who had experienced only neglect, in the absence of other maltreatment, would exhibit PTSD, dissociation, and depression symptoms similar to peers who had a history of other maltreatment. The second hypothesis was that youths who had experienced neglect in concert with other maltreatment would exhibit more severe symptoms of PTSD, dissociation, and depression than youths who had experienced maltreatment without neglect. The third hypothesis was that gender, age, and specific family factors will influence symptom severity of PTSD, dissociation, and depression. Study findings indicate that youths who experienced neglect exhibited PTSD-related symptoms similar to adolescents who experienced other forms of maltreatment. Results did not support the notion that neglect has an additive traumatic effect on maltreated youth, as youths who experienced neglect and other maltreatment in concert did not exhibit more PTSD-related symptoms than youth who experienced maltreatment without neglect. Specific family environment variables correlated with PTSD-related symptoms. Female participants exhibited significantly more PTSD, depression, and dissociative symptoms than male participants. A discussion of study results indicates that all types of child maltreatment may lead to similar PTSD-related symptoms due to biological stress responses. Individual, family, and social support factors relate to PTSD and influence trauma reactions.

Keywords

Child abuse; Child development; Child maltreatment; Child neglect; Neglect; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Disciplines

Child Psychology | Clinical Psychology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Psychology

Language

English


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