Abstract: Applying Latent Transition Analysis to Female Childhood Maltreatment and Assessing Adolescent Outcomes (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Applying Latent Transition Analysis to Female Childhood Maltreatment and Assessing Adolescent Outcomes

Friday, January 13, 2023
Hospitality 2 - Room 444, 4th Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
John Prindle, PhD, Research Faculty, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Background/Purpose: Childhood maltreatment experiences are complex and the constellation of these allegations may shift with age. Within female populations, we examine how early motherhood and juvenile justice involvement (e.g., adolescent arrests) pose ongoing difficulties for an at-risk population. Latent Transition Analysis identifies latent classes and the estimated transition of children between these classes as their alleged maltreatment indicators change with time. This methodology classifies children into different alleged maltreatment profiles and compares likelihood of linked outcomes. We identify how risk for teenage motherhood and adolescent arrest are related to different classifications of maltreatment, identifying transitions which are more likely to both be either riskier or protective. This study leverages linkage of administrative data from birth, child protection, and arrest records to assess risk for future cross system outcomes. We provide an analysis based on a full birth cohort of females born in California experiencing maltreatment at some point during childhood.

Methods: We obtained administrative birth records and child protective service (CPS) records for females born in 2000 (N=76,211). Records were probabilistically linked for these sources, where child information from the girls’ birth record was used to identify these same individuals as mothers for births 2012 through 2020. Indicators of alleged maltreatment were identified from CPS records: neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, multiple perpetrators and nonparent perpetrators. These indicators were identified through the course of childhood to model transitions through latent classifications. Classifications were then used to predict distal outcomes, including the likelihood of having a child as a teenager and experiencing an arrest during teenage years.

Results: In California, 30.0% of female children were probabilistically linked to a CPS referral, where 2.0% of these children were linked to an arrest record and 4.5% were linked to a birth as a teen mother. We identified five different classifications of maltreatment through childhood; which children transition into and out of through different age periods. Females with the classification of experiencing multiple types of alleged maltreatment had the highest levels of teen motherhood (10.8%) and arrests (6.7%), followed by the sexual abuse classification (6.4% mothers; 2.6% arrests) and the neglect classification (7.0% mothers; 2.5% arrests). Females with no maltreatment during adolescence had the lowest probabilities of motherhood (2.1%) and arrest (0.6%).

Conclusions and Implications: Childhood maltreatment affects a large subset of the population of female children represented in California administrative data. Classifications of sexual abuse allegations or experiencing numerous allegations for different maltreatment types were shown to be at higher risk for teen motherhood and arrest, while the absence of later maltreatment had a marked decrease risk. These results highlight a need for earlier intervention in order to effectively lower the likelihood of teen pregnancy and delinquency during adolescence.