Individual, family, and neighborhood factors distinguish resilient from non-resilient maltreated children: a cumulative stressors model.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Children who are physically maltreated are at risk of a range of adverse outcomes in childhood and adulthood, but some children who are maltreated manage to function well despite their history of adversity. Which individual, family, and neighborhood characteristics distinguish resilient from non-resilient maltreated children? Do children's individual strengths promote resilience even when children are exposed to multiple family and neighborhood stressors (cumulative stressors model)?


Data were from the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Study which describes a nationally representative sample of 1,116 twin pairs and their families. Families were home-visited when the twins were 5 and 7 years old, and teachers provided information about children's behavior at school. Interviewers rated the likelihood that children had been maltreated based on mothers' reports of harm to the child and child welfare involvement with the family.


Resilient children were those who engaged in normative levels of antisocial behavior despite having been maltreated. Boys (but not girls) who had above-average intelligence and whose parents had relatively few symptoms of antisocial personality were more likely to be resilient versus non-resilient to maltreatment. Children whose parents had substance use problems and who lived in relatively high crime neighborhoods that were low on social cohesion and informal social control were less likely to be resilient versus non-resilient to maltreatment. Consistent with a cumulative stressors model of children's adaptation, individual strengths distinguished resilient from non-resilient children under conditions of low, but not high, family and neighborhood stress.


These findings suggest that for children residing in multi-problem families, personal resources may not be sufficient to promote their adaptive functioning.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jaffee, SR; Caspi, A; Moffitt, TE; Polo-Tomás, M; Taylor, A

Published Date

  • March 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 31 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 231 - 253

PubMed ID

  • 17395260

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC1978062

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-7757

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0145-2134

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.chiabu.2006.03.011


  • eng