Child Maltreatment and Children's Developmental Trajectories in Early to Middle Childhood

Sarah A. Font, Lawrence M. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Associations between experiencing child maltreatment and adverse developmental outcomes are widely studied, yet conclusions regarding the extent to which effects are bidirectional, and whether they are likely causal, remain elusive. This study uses the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a birth cohort of 4,898 children followed from birth through age 9. Hierarchical linear modeling and structural equation modeling are employed to estimate associations of maltreatment with cognitive and social-emotional well-being. Results suggest that effects of early childhood maltreatment emerge immediately, though developmental outcomes are also affected by newly occurring maltreatment over time. Additionally, findings indicate that children's early developmental scores predict their subsequent probability of experiencing maltreatment, though to a lesser extent than early maltreatment predicts subsequent developmental outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-556
Number of pages21
JournalChild development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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