Physically Abused Preschoolers' Responses to Peers' Distress

Bonnie Klimes-Dougan, Janet Kistner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Response to peers' distress for which they were (target-caused) or were not (bystander) the cause were coded for 11 abused and nonabused preschoolers between the ages of 35 and 67 months. Each child was observed on a playground for an average of 115 min. Consistent with results of research with toddlers, abused preschoolers exhibited more inappropriate responses (aggression and withdrawal) toward distressed peers (bystander incidents) than did nonabused preschoolers. Also, abused children were more likely to cause distress of peers. These findings suggest that even among abused children who have had opportunities to interact with nonabusive caregivers and peers (i.e., regularly attended day care), differences in responses to peers' distress are obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-602
Number of pages4
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1990


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