Abstract: Socio-Ecological Predictors of Resilience Development over Time Among Maltreated Youth (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Socio-Ecological Predictors of Resilience Development over Time Among Maltreated Youth

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Susan Yoon, PhD, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Kathryn Maguire-Jack, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Jerica Knox, Doctoral student, North Carolina State University, NC
Alexa Ploss, Doctoral student, The Ohio State University, OH
Background and Purpose: Although adolescents who have experienced child maltreatment are at increased risk for negative developmental outcomes, some maltreated adolescents exhibit resilience—adaptive functioning despite their exposure to significant adversity and trauma. While there is a growing body of research examining resilient development in maltreated youth, it remains unclear how their resilient functioning changes over time after exposure to maltreatment and what factors predict such change in resilience among maltreated adolescents. Because resilience represents a mutable developmental process, it is vital to examine adolescent resilience functioning longitudinally, following exposure to child maltreatment. To this end, the current study aimed to 1) examine the extent to which adolescents’ resilient functioning changes over time and 2) identify socio-ecological factors (child-, family- and school/community/service-level) that predict changes in maltreated adolescents’ resilient functioning over 18 months.

Methods: We used data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW-II). The study sample included 711 adolescents between the ages of 11 and 17 years. Resilience was operationalized as competencies in four domains of developmental: behavioral, emotional, social, and cognitive. Resilience was assessed using multiple measures, including the Youth Self Report, the Child behavior Checklist 6-18, the Children’s Depression Inventory, the Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction Scale, the Social Skills Rating System, and Woodcock-McGrew-Werder Mini-Battery of Achievement. Socio-ecological predictors included individual-level (age, race, sex), family-level (household income, child maltreatment types, parent-child relationship quality, out-of-home placement), and school/community-level (affiliation with deviant peers, neighborhood safety, receipt of behavioral health services) factors. A series of multinomial logistic regression analysis was conducted using SPSS v.25.

Results: Approximately 63% of the sample was classified into the high-resilience group at Time 1 and about 60% of the youths were classified into the high-resilience group at Time 2 (18 months follow-up). In terms of the movement in resilience status over 18 months, a little less than half (45.4%) stayed in the high-resilience group and about 23% of the youths remained in the low-resilience group. About 17.4% of the youths moved from the high-resilience group to the low-resilience group, whereas 14% of the youths moved from the low-resilience group to the high-resilience group. Younger age, better parent-child relationship quality, and neighborhood safety were positively associated with stable and continued resilient functioning over time. Conversely, childhood physical abuse, affiliation with deviant peers and receipt of behavioral services were negatively associated with continued resilience. Adolescents with better parent-child relationship quality were more likely to move from the low-resilience group to the high-resilience group.

Conclusions and Implications: This study provides empirical support for the notion that resilience changes over time. Interventions that support youths in building strong and positive relationships with their parents may promote resilience development among maltreated youth. Further, children who were physically abused in childhood may benefit from added supports, even if their initial assessments suggest that they are not impacted by the violence, with time this group is at risk for resilience decreasing. Finally, strategies to promote positive peer relationships may prevent a loss of resilience over time.