Types of child maltreatment and their relationship to academic achievement and attributional style

Date of Completion

January 1997


Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Clinical




With few exceptions, studies of child maltreatment have mainly addressed abuse as a single categorical variable without accounting for different types of maltreatment, or their severity. This study classified a sample of 56 7- to 12-year-old children who were maltreated, in terms of their abuse experiences. Severity ratings of physical abuse, emotional maltreatment, neglect, and sexual abuse, were obtained using data collected from social workers, medical records, research assistants, and parents. The sample was administered the WISC-R split-half short form, the K-ABC achievement subtests, and the Child Attributional Style Questionnaire (KASTAN-R/CASQ) as part of a larger study designed to identify risk and protective factors that influence the social, emotional and cognitive development of children who are maltreated. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine (a) the relationship between the severity of each type of abuse and academic achievement, (b) the relationship between the severity of each type of abuse and attributional style, and (c) how IQ, maltreatment history, and children's attributional style, relate to children's academic achievement scores. No relationship was found to exist between severity of abuse type and academic achievement or between severity of abuse type and attributional style. A significant relationship existed between attributional style and academic achievement. In addition, the severities of neglect, physical abuse, and emotional maltreatment, when taken together with attributional style, explained 31% of the variance in academic achievement. ^