Racial Differences in the Consequences of Childhood Maltreatment for Adolescent and Young Adult Depression, Heavy Drinking, and Violence

Journal of Adolescent Health, 02/24/2012

Lee C et al. – Childhood maltreatment has similar negative consequences for black and white male youth during adolescence. Extending intervention efforts through adolescence is important to alleviate these problems among victims.

Methods

  • Data were obtained from the Pittsburgh Youth Study, a prospective longitudinal study of urban males (N = 971, 56% black).
  • Childhood maltreatment was defined as substantiated physical or sexual abuse, physical neglect, emotional maltreatment, or moral/legal/educational maltreatment, with the first referral before 12 years of age.
  • Self-reports of depressive symptoms and heavy drinking (consuming more than six drinks on a single occasion) and official, parent, and self-reports of violent offending were assessed between 12 and 17 years of age (adolescence) and at 24/25 years of age (young adulthood).
  • Regression analyses were conducted to examine childhood maltreatment and race, as well as maltreatment-by-race interactions, as predictors of the three outcomes.

Results

  • Prevalence of childhood maltreatment was higher for black than for white boys; however, there were no racial differences in timing, type, severity, and chronicity of maltreatment.
  • When socioeconomic status and cohort were controlled, childhood maltreatment significantly predicted depressive symptoms and violence in adolescence but none of the outcomes in young adulthood.
  • Race was a significant predictor of heavy drinking and violence during adolescence, and of all three outcomes in young adulthood. No significant race-by-maltreatment interaction effects were found.

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