Adult resilience among maltreated children: A prospective investigation of main effect and mediating models

James Topitzes, Joshua P. Mersky, Kristin A. Dezen, Arthur J. Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Studies examining resilience to child maltreatment reveal that maltreatment victims can achieve adaptive functioning in several areas of development; however, few of these individuals persistently demonstrate resilience across multiple domains. The majority of these investigations define adjustment with a limited number of outcomes measured proximal in time to the maltreatment experience. In contrast, this study measured adjustment across a diverse set of domains during early adulthood (ages 16-24), a number of years after the occurrence of childhood maltreatment (ages 0-11). Main effect and mediation analyses were conducted. Data were derived from the Chicago Longitudinal Study, an examination of 1539 minority individuals born in low-income Chicago-area neighborhoods in 1979 or 1980. Study participants were followed prospectively from birth through age 24. Maltreatment data originated from official court and child protective service records. Parent report, self report, and administrative sources informed covariate, mediator and outcome measures. Results from multivariate probit regression revealed that childhood maltreatment significantly and negatively predicted adult resilience. Exploratory and confirmatory mediation analyses showed that the following adolescent indicators helped explain the long-term association between childhood maltreatment and young adult adjustment: school moves and out-of-home placement, reading ability, acting out behavior, social skills, juvenile delinquency, commitment to school, and expectation to attend college. Implications of results are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)937-949
Number of pages13
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The following grants supported the research reported herein: Chicago Longitudinal Study grants from the National Institutes of Health (No. R01HD034294 ) and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (No. 20030035 ); and a dissertation grant from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education (No. R305C050055 ) through the University of Wisconsin-Madison .


  • Adult resilience
  • Child maltreatment
  • Mediation


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