Does Stress Mediate the Relation between Caregivers’ Victimization and Child Behavioral Outcomes? A Prospective Examination


Children with internalizing and externalizing difficulties are at risk for long-term negative effects in adulthood and are impacted by several caregiver factors. Findings of the present study are consistent with previous studies that found direct associations between caregiver victimization history (e.g., physical and sexual abuse) and child behavior problems. Examination of potential mechanisms revealed that caregiver everyday stress related to relationships/responsibilities (RR) served as a mediator between caregiver victimization history and increased children’s internalizing symptoms. Though there may be other pathways that contribute to this relation, there does seem to be clinical and policy utility of this knowledge, particularly for at-risk families that are faced with high levels of everyday RR stress. Attenuation of this impact may be accomplished through connection to community resources such as access to family counseling to mitigate relational stress and policy addressing disparities.

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The data used in this manuscript were made available by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and have been used with permission. Data from Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) Assessments 0-12 were originally collected by Desmond K. Runyan, Howard Dubowitz, Diana J. English, Jonathan Kotch, Alan Litrownik, Richard Thompson and Terri Lewis & The LONGSCAN Investigator Group. Funding for the project was provided by the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN), Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, Dept. of Health and Human Services (The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN), under the Office of Human Services funded this consortium of studies during the early years of data collection from 04/01/1991 until NCCAN became part of OCAN in 1998.) (Award Number: 90CA1467, 90CA1481, 90CA1466, 90CA1458, 90CA1572, 90CA1569, 90CA1568, 90CA1566, 90CA1678, 90CA1681, 90CA1680, 90CA1676, 90CA1677, 90CA1679, 90CA1744, 90CA1745, 90CA1746, 90CA1747, 90CA1748, 90CA1749). The collector of the original data, the funder, NDACAN, Cornell University and their agents or employees bear no responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.

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Correspondence to Tre D. Gissandaner.

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Gissandaner, T.D., Schmidt, A.T., Mastergeorge, A. et al. Does Stress Mediate the Relation between Caregivers’ Victimization and Child Behavioral Outcomes? A Prospective Examination. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 52, 154–165 (2021).

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  • Caregiver victimization
  • Stress
  • Child behavior