Developmental Trajectories of Social Competence among Maltreated Children

Jessica Jaye Capretto, Tennessee State University


Social problems in childhood are identified as one of the greatest predictors of serious social and psychological difficulties throughout development. Maltreated children are at a greater risk of experiencing social difficulties and peer rejection. Little research has examined the developmental course of social competence in maltreated children. The present study aims to identify longitudinal developmental trajectories of social competence in childhood to examine predictors of symptom presentation in N = 871 children from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) studies, a consortium of studies focusing on the causes and effects of childhood maltreatment. Children included in the study had a history of documented reports of child maltreatment with Child Protective Services (CPS) and all were identified as living in high-risk environments. Multi-level modeling was used to identify unique developmental trajectories across four time periods. Participants completed the Child Behavior Check List (CBCL), Teacher’s Estimation of Child’s Peer Status, and several demographic and social support measures. Results of analyses suggest maltreated children show a slower increase in social competency and a slower decline in growth, compared to non-maltreated children. In addition, results suggest that child gender, family income, and social support of maltreated children impact social competency at 8 years-of-age and growth rates of social competency between 8 and 14 years-of-age. Finally, results suggest that type and timing of childhood maltreatment impact initial rating of social competency at 8 years-of-age, as well as growth rates of social competency between 8 and 14 years-of-age.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Jessica Jaye Capretto, "Developmental Trajectories of Social Competence among Maltreated Children" (2019). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI10843255.