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Resilience among abused and neglected children grown up

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2002

Rutgers University
New Jersey Medical School


Although an extensive literature has accumulated documenting the maladaptive outcomes associated with childhood victimization, a limited body of knowledge addresses resilience. This paper sought to operationalize the construct of resilience across a number of domains of functioning and time periods and to determine the extent to which abused and neglected children grown up demonstrate resilience. Substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect from 1967 to 1971 were matched on gender, age, race, and approximate family social class with nonabused and nonneglected children and followed prospectively into young adulthood. Between 1989 and 1995, 1,196 participants (676 abused and neglected and 520 controls) were administered a 2-hr in-person interview, including a psychiatric assessment. Resilience requires meeting the criteria for success across six of eight domains of functioning: employment, homelessness, education, social activity, psychiatric disorder, substance abuse, and two domains assessing criminal behavior (official arrest and self-reports of violence). Results indicate that 22% of abused and neglected individuals meet the criteria for resilience. More females met the criteria for resilience and females were successful across a greater number of domains than males. We speculate on the meaning of these findings and discuss implications for the child maltreatment field. Limitations of the study are also acknowledged.

Research Article
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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