Research Paper on Implications of Maltreatment on Peer Development

Published: 2021-08-11
1279 words
5 pages
11 min to read
University of California, Santa Barbara
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Maltreated children are at risk of poor peer relationships and lower social status particularly peer rejection. Such children tend to receive few positive and more negative choices hence have a negative reciprocity in their relationships with peers. Often, they are perceived by their peers as having more negative social behaviors. In their peer networks, they are more insular and atypical. Compared to their peers, the quality of social support such children receive from their peers is less (Trickett, 2011). Abused children are viewed as being meaner and more likely to engage in delinquency. This is a result of parental abuse which affects their bond with the family members. Abuse may influence them to develop anti-social behaviors such as less cooperation and other behavioral disorders. It is important to note that childrens attempt to cope with maltreatment may lead to negative responses from their peers which contributes to a lower status.

Implications of maltreatment on cognitive development.

Stress associated with prolonged abuse and lack of social support can adversely impact a childs cognitive development. Such stress may come in the form of emotional abuse, exposure to violence, or physical abuse. Maltreatment creates a stressful environment which weakens a childs brain development and elevates the risk of cognitive problems (Lee, 2007). A child in an abusive home has lower cognitive abilities due to exposure to constant abuse which undermine the development of essential aspects of cognitive psychology. For example, children living in an abusive home are slow in building essential skills such as attention and critical thinking. Lack of such crucial skills affects how they process information and may have an impact on their academic progress. Studies conducted have linked problematic school performance to physical abuse and neglect of children (Welsh, 2010). Physically harmed children tend to have problems in processing social information and are less attentive mainly to social cues. This explains cognitive impairments in abused children by showing the impacts of abuse on information processing patterns.

Implications of maltreatment on physical and perceptual development.

Maltreatment of young children can result in brain dysfunction and death. Deaths often occur among abused children aged less than five years. Physical abuse such as striking the head can cause injuries which may have adverse health impacts on the children. Children that sustain brain injuries from abuse may have internal bleeding. Hence, physical abuse may have severe health consequences for young children. Maltreatment during early childhood may stunt physical growth of children. Abuse is often reported as a significant factor in cases where infants gain weight significantly following hospital admission. In some cases of abuse involving nutritional deprivation, children become exposed to psychological problems (Mendle, 2011). Characteristics common in maltreated children include self-stimulating behavior, low activity level, expressionless face, and lack of smiling. Also, physical abuse may cause neural impairment including growth and mental retardation.

Implications of maltreatment on social and emotional development

Studies show that severe maltreatment may lead to poor social skills and emotional instability (Alink, 2012). Physical child abuse is attributed to withdrawal behaviors among young children which impairs the development of stable attachments to a parent or guardian. Children with poor attachments to their guardians are at an elevated risk of decreased self-esteem and hence perceive themselves more negatively than the other children. Research conducted reported low self-esteem among school-going children who have been exposed to maltreatment (Shen, 2009). Consequences of abuse and neglect can be adverse during early childhood when the children are developing key social and emotional abilities. Maternal detachment arising from abuse may affect development child-parent bond and attachment which can undermine a childs ability to interact with others socially. Such children have poor expectations of adult availability, poor problem-solving skills, and reduced ability to adjust to stressful situations. Maltreated children are reported to have a higher incidence of suicide attempts. Comparison studies with children from stable families show lower self-esteem, depression, and hopelessness in abused children. These children tend to have emotional difficulties as they grow.

Child well-being Indicators

Key well-being indicators that I would consider when assessing children include safety, health, achievement, activity, and responsibility. With regards to safety, children have to be protected from neglect and abuse at school and home. This implies that the children are well cared for, and their parents provided for them. Children can thrive in a safe environment and build social skills and other essential skills required in the education setting.

Health is a major well-being indicator that shows whether the children are taken care of by their guardians. Healthy children are well nourished and protected from diseases through vaccination and maintaining a clean environment. They must have access to health services which are vital for maintaining their health. Attaining the highest of health and accessing appropriate healthcare services is essential in maintaining the well-being of the children.

Achievement is the fundamental pillar of a childrens success. Children are expected to achieve in the education setting. With support and guidance in learning and developing skills, children can attain academic success and gain confidence and self-esteem in school and home. Poor achievement in school may be as a result of neglect and maltreatment at home. As such, achievement has to be considered to gauge children as they progress in school.

Taken part in school activities such as play and recreation indicates healthy growth and development of children. The well-being of children is dependent on physical activity. Thus, by regularly taking part in activities, children can thrive. Responsible children indicate a conducive environment where parents are involved in their life. It is thus important to encourage children to be active and responsible in home and school and where necessary supervise them and be involved in decisions that impact them.

Given the effects of child abuse, it is imperative to adopt programs designed to reduce this scourge. Education programs for both children and parents can be vital in combating child abuse. Programs such as afterschool activities and parent education classes can be leveraged to inform all stakeholders about the issue of child abuse and ways to prevent it. Children programs should be aimed at teaching them about their rights. When children are taught their rights, they are more likely to report guardians that abuse them. Support prevention programs should also be considered to reduce child abuse. These programs are effective in preventing abuse before it happens (Howard, 2009). For example, prevention programs such as family counseling can offer assistance to young children and their parents. With the prevention programs, the society would be effective in identifying children at risk of child abuse and rectifying the issues as soon as possible through family and child support or counseling services.


Alink, L. R., Cicchetti, D., Kim, J., & Rogosch, F. A. (2012). Longitudinal associations among child maltreatment, social functioning, and cortisol regulation. Developmental psychology, 48(1), 224.

Howard, K. S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2009). The role of home-visiting programs in preventing child abuse and neglect. The future of Children, 19(2), 119-146.

Lee, V., & Hoaken, P. N. (2007). Cognition, emotion, and neurobiological development: Mediating the relation between maltreatment and aggression. Child maltreatment, 12(3), 281-298.

Mendle, J., Leve, L. D., Van Ryzin, M., Natsuaki, M. N., & Ge, X. (2011). Associations between early life stress, child maltreatment, and pubertal development among girls in foster care. Journal of research on adolescence, 21(4), 871-880.

Shen, A. C. T. (2009). Self-esteem of young adults experiencing interparental violence and child physical maltreatment: Parental and peer relationships as mediators. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 24(5), 770-794.

Trickett, P. K., Negriff, S., Ji, J., & Peckins, M. (2011). Child maltreatment and adolescent development. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 3-20.

Welsh, J. A., Nix, R. L., Blair, C., Bierman, K. L., & Nelson, K. E. (2010). The development of cognitive skills and gains in academic school readiness for children from low-income families. Journal of educational psychology, 102(1), 43.

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