Gender Differences in Resilience Among Abused and Neglected Children Grown-Up

Jean M. McGloin, Rutgers University
Cathy Spatz Widom, New Jersey Medical School (UMDNJ)

An extensive literature has documented negative outcomes associated with childhood victimization. This presentation has three goals: (1) to operationalize the construct of resilience across a number of domains of functioning and time periods; (2) to determine the extent to which abused and neglected children grown-up demonstrate resilience; and (3) to determine whether there are gender differences in resilience among abused and neglected children grown-up. Substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect from 1967 to 1971 were matched on gender, age, race, and approximate family social class with non-abused and non-neglected children and followed prospectively into young adulthood. Between 1989 and 1995, 1,196 participants (676 abused and neglected and 520 controls) were administered a two-hour-in-person interview, including a psychiatric assessment. Resilience is assessed across six of eight domains of functioning using self-report and official record information. Results indicate that 22% of abused and neglected individuals meet the criteria for resilience. More females met the criteria for resilience and females were successful across a greater number of domains than males. We speculate on the meaning of these findings and discuss implications for the child maltreatment field. Limitations of the study are also acknowledged.

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Updated 05/20/2006