Thursday, January 17, 2019: 4:45 PM
Union Square 25 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Existing research indicates that adolescents with a child maltreatment history are more likely than adolescents without this history to be arrested and detained (Barrett, Katsiyannis, Zhang, & Zhang, 2014; Dodge & Pettit, 2003; Widom & Maxfield, 2001). Though this link has been widely supported in extant research, there is an absence of knowledge about the specific pathways that connect child maltreatment to adolescent aggression and delinquency (Shin, Cook, Morris, McDougle, & Groves, 2016), and the possible developmental contributions of trauma symptoms. Using a nationally representative longitudinal dataset, the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) II, this study examines how changes in the number of trauma symptoms from late childhood and early adolescence (ages 8 – 14.5 years) to adolescence (ages 11 – 17.5 years) moderate aggressive and delinquent behaviors for 1,180 maltreated children. Analysis of relationships was conducted using multiple linear regression methods, controlling for gender, race and ethnicity, and child placement setting, and nested by child maltreatment experience type (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect). Changes in trauma symptoms from late childhood/early adolescence to adolescence were found to significantly and positively contribute to adolescents’ overall externalizing behaviors (b = .38, p < .001), as well as aggression (b = .28, p < .001) and delinquency (b = .09, p < .001) in particular, such that increases in trauma symptoms over time predict greater externalizing behaviors, and decreases in trauma symptoms over time predict less externalizing behaviors. Implications for evidence-based trauma-informed practices and policies tailored to high-risk maltreated children and targeting trauma symptoms, during critical time periods and with attention to specific protective factors, are discussed.