Childhood Violence Exposure: Cumulative and Specific Effects on Adult Mental Health
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Childhood exposure to violence and victimization is a significant public health problem, with potentially long-lasting, deleterious effects on adult mental health. Using a longitudinal study design, 123 young adults—identified in adolescence as at-risk for high school dropout—were examined for the effects of multi-domain childhood victimization on emotional distress and suicide risk, net of adolescent risk and protective factors, including family dysfunction. The hypothesis that higher levels of cumulative childhood victimization would be significantly associated with mental health maladjustment in young adulthood was confirmed by the analysis. However, the victimization predictors of adult emotional distress were different than the predictors of adult suicide risk. These findings indicate the need for prevention and intervention approaches that include thorough assessment, and focus on the childhood and adolescent problem areas that are most consequential for long-term psychological well-being.
KeywordsYoung adult Victimization Emotional distress Suicide
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