Previous research has revealed a large prevalence of trauma experienced by children, creating high risk for the development of psychopathology. Research investigating the negative impacts of child maltreatment and other traumas has typically examined these experiences individually, controlling for co-occurring traumas, or has combined these experiences into a general variable of risk, thereby obscuring the complex relationships among environmental traumas and maltreatment. The current study expands on previous research by elucidating relationships between multiple contexts of overlapping traumas and maltreatment experienced by children, and by categorizing how these experiences join together to impact internalizing and externalizing symptomatology. Participants included 316 maltreated children and 269 nonmaltreated children (M age = 9.4, SD = 0.88) who attended a summer day camp research program for low-income children. Latent Class Analysis (LCA) identified three differential patterns of trauma exposure across children: 1) community violence and loss; 2) pervasive trauma; and 3) low trauma. Covariate analyses demonstrated that child maltreatment was significantly associated with class membership, suggesting that maltreated children were more likely to experience diverse traumas extending beyond their maltreatment experiences (pervasive trauma class). A two-way analysis of variance also demonstrated that trauma latent class membership and child maltreatment each represented unique predictors of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, with each having an independent effect on symptomatology. This investigation provides unique insight into the differential impact of patterns of trauma exposure and child maltreatment, providing support for further research and clinical practice addressing multiple levels of a child's ecology.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH83979) and the Spunk Fund, Inc .
- Childhood maltreatment
- Community violence
- Latent class analysis