Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Trajectories Among Children Exposed to Violence
Little research has examined the developmental course of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in children. The current study aimed to identify developmental trajectories of PTSS in childhood and to examine predictors of symptom presentation in 1,178 children from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) studies, a consortium of studies focusing on the causes and effects of child maltreatment. Most children had a history of documented reports with Child Protective Services (CPS) and all were identified as living in high-risk environments. Using group-based trajectory modeling, 3 unique developmental trajectories were identified: Resilient, Clinical-Improving (PTSS in the clinical range at baseline then declining over time), and Borderline-Stable (chronically subclinical PTSS). Children in the Clinical-Improving group were more likely than children in the Resilient group to have reports of physical abuse (RRR = 1.76), emotional abuse (RRR = 2.55), neglect (RRR = 1.57), and exposure to violence at home and in the community (RRR = 1.04). Children in the Borderline-Stable group were more likely than children in the Resilient group to have a CPS history of neglect (RRR = 2.44) and exposure to violence at home and in the community (RRR = 1.04). Many children living in high-risk environments exhibit resilience to PTSS, but exposure to witnessed violence and neglect appear to put children at chronic risk for poor adjustment. These children may require more intensive, integrated clinical services that attend to multiple adverse experiences.
Journal of Traumatic Stress
Miller-Graff, L., & Howell, K. (2015). Posttraumatic Stress Symptom Trajectories Among Children Exposed to Violence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 28 (1), 17-24. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.21989