Although childhood maltreatment is associated with long-term impairment, some children function well despite this adversity. This study aimed to identify the key protective factors for good educational attainment and positive emotional health in adolescents who experienced maltreatment in early childhood. Data were analyzed from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a large UK prospective cohort study. The sample was defined by maternally reported exposure to physical or emotional maltreatment by a parent prior to 5 years. 1118 (8.0%) children were emotionally maltreated and 375 (2.7%) were physically maltreated before the age of 5. There were too few cases of sexual abuse to be considered. Positive outcomes were operationalized as achieving 5 or more grade A*-C GCSE exam grades at 16 years and scores above the cohort median on the self-report Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and Bachmann Self-Esteem Scale at 17.5 years. The associations of individual, family and community covariates with successful adaptation to the adversity of maltreatment were investigated using logistic regression. School related factors, including engagement in extracurricular activities, satisfaction with school and not being bullied were the most important in facilitating resilience in educational attainment, self-esteem and wellbeing. Good communication and social skills was the most protective individual trait. There was insufficient evidence to suggest that family factors were associated with resilience to maltreatment. School-based interventions are recommended to promote positive adaptation following parental maltreatment. Future research should evaluate outcomes across the life-course to understand whether the protective influences of school persist into adulthood.
- Child maltreatment
- Protective factors