This study draws from a sample of 1,018 adolescents (52% female; 55% Black and 24% White) participating in the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect, a 5-region cohort study of at-risk youth. Using the 43-item Mid-adolescent Neglect Scale, 5 subtypes of neglect (i.e., monitoring, basic needs, permissiveness, exposure, and support) were specified as latent variables and measured at age 16. Each type of child abuse was assessed at age 16 using the self-reports of mid—adolescent exposure: frequency of emotional and physical abuse, and dichotomized sexual abuse. Internalizing and externalizing problems were assessed at age 18 using the Youth Self-Report (YSR). Adolescents’ gender, race, previous internalizing and externalizing problems using the YSR at 12 years were used as control variables.
Results revealed that the measurement model specifying the 5 latent mid-adolescent neglect factors had adequate fit: RMSEA = .051 (90% CI: .049, .054), CFI = .958, SRMR = .056. The full structural model also had adequate fit: RMSEA = .041 (90% CI: .040, .043), CFI = .960, SRMR = .052. Support neglect predicted internalizing problems at 18 (β = .264, p= .030), but not externalizing problems (β = .133, p= .249). None of the other neglect types in mid-adolescence predicted internalizing and externalizing problems. Emotional abuse during mid-adolescence predicted internalizing problems (β = .130, p= .003) and externalizing problems (β = .112, p= .008).
Findings suggest that the salient role of support neglect and emotional abuse experienced during mid-adolescence on later young adult functioning. Further research is needed to understand specific subtypes of neglect in prediction of a fuller ranged of functioning domains, throughout development. These findings underscore the importance of specific types of neglect and abuse assessment; social work practitioners need training on that nature of neglect and its consequences.