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The interactive effect of maltreatment in the family and unstable institutional caregiving in predicting behavior problems in toddlers.

  • Author(s): Baptista, Joana
  • Belsky, Jay
  • Marques, Sofia
  • Silva, Joana R
  • Oliveira, Paula
  • Mesquita, Ana
  • Martins, Carla
  • Soares, Isabel
  • et al.
Abstract

The current study extends research on the effects of institutionalization, most notably by examining whether-and how-both pre-institutional maltreatment in the family and the stability and consistency of institutional care interact to shape emotional and behavioral development. Fifty Portuguese children, placed in residential institutions when 8 days to 26 months of age, were evaluated using the Child Behavior Checklist when aged 18-31 months. Caregiver-rated internalizing and externalizing behavior problems proved to be unrelated to both early family and institutional experiences, as main effects, but the interaction of these factors significantly predicted externalizing problems: a history of maltreatment in the family coupled with unstable institutional caregiving arrangements predicted especially elevated levels of externalizing problems. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of more distal and proximate developmental experiences.

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