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Study Links Child Maltreatment to Behavioral Issues: Pediatrics Report

A recent study published online in Pediatrics on May 14 reveals a concerning correlation: child maltreatment is associated with heightened externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Conducted by Anneke E. Olson and her team from The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, the study delves into the repercussions of maltreatment exposure on children's behavioral development.

The multi-wave prospective cohort study tracked 1,354 children from around the age of 4 throughout their childhood and adolescence, spanning seven waves of data collection occurring every two years.

The findings are stark: maltreatment exposure predicts increases in externalizing behaviours at ages 8, 12, and 16, with corresponding increases in internalizing behaviours at ages 6, 12, and 14. Notably, at age 12, heightened externalizing behaviours serve as predictors for future maltreatment exposure.

In the words of the authors, "The results suggest that exposure to child maltreatment during childhood and adolescence leads to subsequent increases in both externalizing and internalizing behaviours." Moreover, they caution that elevated levels of externalizing behaviours during the transition to adolescence may render children vulnerable to future maltreatment.

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