Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Social Work

Committee Chair

Faul, Anna

Author's Keywords

Child maltreatment; Behavior; CBCL; Multi-level modeling


Abused children--Longitudinal studies; Child abuse--Longitudinal studies; Abused children--Psychology


Child maltreatment touches almost 700,000 children annually. The effects of child maltreatment range from micro-level consequences, such as behavior problems and mental health issues, to mezzo-level consequences, such as increased child welfare worker caseloads and overcrowding residential facilities, to macro-level consequences, such as increased costs and policy implications. Data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) were analyzed to examine the factors that impact child behavior in children who have been reported to child protective services (CPS) as a result of child maltreatment. The model investigated the influence of child, caregiver, and environmental factors on child behavior problems over six years among a nationally representative sample of children age 2-18. Methods: A longitudinal multivariate multilevel model was estimated utilizing MLwiN with a three-level nested structure. The model examined individual differences in 4,997 child behavior problems over six years, testing both time-variant and time-invariant predictors measured during four time periods. Results: Following the estimation of six multivariate multilevel models, results indicated several statistically significant predictors at the child level (i.e., gender, race, age, social skills, maltreatment type, exposure to violence, physical and cognitive health), caregiver level (i.e., age, education, marital status, number of children in the home, number of changes in caregivers, permanent caregiver, physical health, domestic violence, social support, and perception of neighborhood), and environmental-level (i.e., percentage of single parents, access to social services, percentage of white population) on at least one of the dependent variables. Additionally, interaction effects were tested and a few proved to be statistically significant predictors of child behavior problems as well. Conclusions: Children differ in terms of how they respond to maltreatment and other life events or situations. It is imperative that interventions be individualized to target specific issues and reduce specific behavior problems. Results indicated that improving child social skills and increasing caregiver social support may be key in reducing child behavior problems. Both practice and policy implications are discussed as well as recommendations for future research.