Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

15794 Adolescents' Reports On Staff Use of Verbal and Physical Violence In Residential Care for Children At-Risk

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 4:30 PM
Constitution C (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Shalhevet Attar-Schwartz, PhD, Lecturer, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel
Background and Purpose: Staff maltreatment in out-of-home care for children at-risk is an alarming phenomenon, yet existing research is severely limited, based mainly on administrative data of reported cases, analysis of a limited range of correlates, adult reports, and small-scale samples. The current study examines the prevalence and the multi-level correlates of staff verbal and physical maltreatment of adolescents aged 11-19 residing in residential care facilities for children at-risk in Israel.

Methods: The study is based on a large-scale sample of 1,324 adolescents in 32 rehabilitative and therapeutic settings who completed a structured anonymous questionnaire. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used to examine the relationships between adolescents' victimization and child-level characteristics (age, gender, adjustment difficulties and perceived social climate and policy of the setting) as well as institution-level characteristics (setting type, size, structure, and cultural affiliation.).

Results: The findings show that almost a third (29%) of the adolescents reported being verbally maltreated by a staff member and a quarter (25%) reported being a victim of at least one type of physical maltreatment in the preceding month. The most vulnerable adolescents were boys, adolescents with more emotional symptoms and hyperactive behavior, adolescents in Arab institutions, and those who perceived the residential care staff as stricter and less supportive.

Conclusions and Implications: The study emphasizes the need for an ecological perspective in addressing staff use of violence in out-of-home residential settings and for the development of intervention and prevention programs that are tailored specifically to the various risk groups identified.

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