Mechanisms in the Association Between Abuse and Violence: School Problems

Academic problems rank highly among correlates of violence (see Chapter 5). Abuse could lead to school problems either through the CNS injury route explored above, through school problems due to missing school, or through emotional problems that reduce school engagement. Children exposed to violence have been found to have lower grades (e.g., Howard, Budge, & McKay, 2010). In a metaanalysis of studies on the sequelae of child sexual abuse, Paolucci et al. (2001) found a negative association between victimization and academic performance. Compared with 72% of the high-risk comparison group who were rated by teachers at average or above average level in their academic performance, only 18% of the neglected children in one study were seen as “average” by their teachers (Kent, 1976). Lansford et al. found that physically abused children were less likely to graduate from high school (Lansford, Miller-Johnson, Berlin, Dodge, Bates, & Pettit, 2007). Eckenrode, Laird, and Doris (1993) found that maltreated children scored lower on standardized tests, had lower grades, and were more likely to repeat a grade than matched controls. The differences were statistically significant in models controlling for age, gender, and socioeconomic status (SES). More than 37% of maltreated children compared to 19% of nonmaltreated children had repeated a grade. In a study of US children from 9 Georgia counties, abuse victims showed deficits in math, language, and reading (Wodarski, Kurtz, Gaudin, & Howing, 1990). Abused and neglected children were also more likely to repeat a grade than nonmaltreated children. While 24% of comparison children had repeated a grade, 55% of physically abused and 60% of neglected had done so, though the difference was partially accounted for by socioeconomic standing (Wodarski et al., 1990).

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