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The social competence of very-low-birthweight children: Teacher, peer, and self-perceptions


Whether very-low birthweight (VLBW ≤1500 gm) children differ from normal birthweight (NBW > 2500gm) children with respect to social (as opposed to intellectual) competence has been a relatively neglected issue. The social competence at school age of 183 VLBW children was therefore compared with that of 183 NBW children born at the same hospital matched for age, gender, social class, parity, and maternal age. A multi-informant, multidefinilional approach to social competence was adopted involving teacher, (same-gender) peer, and self-ratings of the 366 children's levels of social maladjustment, social skill, and peer acceptance. VLBW children from the upper, middle, and lower social classes received significantly higher mean sadness/unhappiness scores (even with IQ covaried) than their NEW counterparts. Mean scores for the VLBW group were also higher for social withdrawal, and lower for both social skill and peer acceptance. Possible antecedents and consequences of such group differences in affect and sociability are suggested.

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Author information

Correspondence to Elizabeth A. Hoy.

Additional information

This study was supported by grants from the Department of Health and Social Services, the Chest, Heart and Stroke Association, the Perinatal Trust Fund (all of Northern Ireland), and the Medical Research Council (U.K.) for the investigation of “The cognitive, social, and behavioral adjustment of very-low-birthweight infants at school age.” The resources provided by the Northern Ireland Department of Economic Development ACE scheme arc also gratefully acknowledged. The authors wish to thank all 15 research assistants on the Very Low-Birthweight (VLBW) Team, and especially those parents, children, and school personnel who participated so willingly in the NI VLBW project.

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Hoy, E.A., Sykes, D.H., Bill, J.M. et al. The social competence of very-low-birthweight children: Teacher, peer, and self-perceptions. J Abnorm Child Psychol 20, 123–150 (1992).

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  • Social Skill
  • Social Class
  • Social Competence
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Lower Social Classis