Date of Award

Spring 2005

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Melchert, Timothy P.

Second Advisor

Bardwell, Rebecca

Third Advisor

Fox, Robert


The study used an ecological-transactional model to explore the possible interaction between child maltreatment, family conflict, and community violence and the development of children's vocabulary and resilience. Specifically, a child's scores on measures of vocabulary development and resilience were considered in light of a child's history of abuse, the degree of family conflict within the home, and the amount of violence in the community in which the child lives. Children were separated into several categories; maltreated and non-maltreated; those experiencing conflict in the home and those not experiencing conflict; and those who live in violent communities and those not living in violent communities. The children in the maltreated group were further categorized based upon the type of abuse suffered, the age that the abuse occurred, and the chronicity of the abuse. Finally, gender differences were explored for each of the above mentioned categories. Multiple regression and MANOVA were used to analyze the data. The result so the study suggested that vocabulary scores were not statistically different between the maltreated and non-maltreated participants in this study, regardless of the factors examined. However, a fairly consistent pattern of results emerged in this study with regard to resiliency scores. These results suggest that a child's scores on the resiliency measure were significantly affected by: whether a child was maltreated, the type of maltreatment they experienced, the severity of the maltreatment, the chronicity of the maltreatment, and by family conflict. Further, in certain cases, the combinations of these different variables affected resiliency. The results were discussed, limitations were presented, and implications for future research and for therapists working with maltreated children were discussed.



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