Special Issue "Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Children's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. David Cantón Cortés
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology,University of Malaga, Malaga, Spain
Interests: child abuse; child development; attachment; child-to-parent violence

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) welcomes submissions for a Special Issue under the section of Children’s Health, focusing on “Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience”.

Childhood abuse and neglect (CAN) is a worldwide problem that affects children of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Research has found that survivors of CAN are at a high risk of developing psychological and interpersonal difficulties. However, despite evidence of the negative consequences of CAN, psychological adjustment after abuse varies widely, and a significant portion of survivors do not show significant impairment. Thus, more research is required to understand the complex relationships between CAN and mental health, as well as to analyze the variables that contribute to differences in survivor adjustment following abuse.

Manuscripts must clearly focus on analyzing the association between child abuse and neglect and the mental health of the survivor during childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, as well as on investigating the role of personal and environmental resilience factors. Special emphasis will also be given to the evaluation and implementation of interventions aimed to the improvement of survivor’s mental health.

Submissions should include original articles, brief reports, or critical reviews (systematic reviews or meta-analyses).

Prof. Dr. David Cantón Cortés
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Child Physical Maltreatment
  • Child Emotional Maltreatment
  • Child Sexual Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Mental Health
  • Short- and Long-Term Effects
  • Resilience
  • Intervention Program

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Cumulative Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experience: Depressive Symptoms, Suicide Intensions and Suicide Plans among Senior High School Students in Nanchang City of China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(13), 4718; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17134718 - 30 Jun 2020
Abstract
This study tested relationships between different types of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and depressive symptoms, suicide intensions, suicide plans and examines the cumulative effects of adverse childhood experience on depressive, suicide intentions and suicide plans among senior high school students. We conducted a [...] Read more.
This study tested relationships between different types of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and depressive symptoms, suicide intensions, suicide plans and examines the cumulative effects of adverse childhood experience on depressive, suicide intentions and suicide plans among senior high school students. We conducted a survey among five senior high schools in Nanchang city, which were selected through stratified random cluster sampling. Among the 884 respondents, 409 were male (46.27%), and 475 were female (53.73%); the age ranged from 14 to 18. During the past 12 months, 199 (22.51%) students presented to depressive symptoms, 125 (14.14%) students had suicide intensions, 55 (6.22%) students had suicide plans. As ACE scores increased, there was an increase in the odds of (1) depressive symptoms—one ACE (adjusted odds ratio, AOR = 2.096, p < 0.001), two ACEs (AOR = 3.155, p < 0.001) and three to five ACEs (AOR = 9.707, p < 0.001); suicide intensions-1 ACE (AOR = 1.831, p = 0.011), two ACEs (AOR = 2.632, p = 0.002) and three to five ACEs (AOR = 10.836, p < 0.001); and (2) suicide plans—one ACE (AOR = 2.599, p < 0.001), two ACEs (AOR = 4.748, p < 0.001) and three to five ACEs (AOR = 22.660, p < 0.001). We should increase the awareness of adolescents who have had adverse childhood experience, especially those with multiple ACEs to prevent depression and suicide among senior high school students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)
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Open AccessArticle
Child Sexual Abuse and Suicidal Ideation: The Differential Role of Attachment and Emotional Security in the Family System
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3163; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093163 - 02 May 2020
Abstract
The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of attachment style and emotional security in the family system on suicidal ideation in a sample of young adult female victims of child sexual abuse (CSA). The possible effects of CSA characteristics and [...] Read more.
The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of attachment style and emotional security in the family system on suicidal ideation in a sample of young adult female victims of child sexual abuse (CSA). The possible effects of CSA characteristics and other types of child abuse on suicidal ideation were controlled for. The sample consisted of 188 female college students who had been victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18, as well as 188 randomly selected participants who had not experienced CSA. The results showed that both attachment and emotional security were associated with suicidal ideation, even when controlling for both the characteristics of abuse and the existence of other abuses. The strong relationships of emotional security and attachment style with suicidal ideation suggest the importance of early intervention with children who have been sexually abused and their families, in an effort to optimize their attachment style, as well as to decrease emotional insecurity to prevent the onset of symptomatology related to suicidal ideation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)
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Open AccessArticle
Mediating Effects of Specific Types of Coping Styles on the Relationship between Childhood Maltreatment and Depressive Symptoms among Chinese Undergraduates: The Role of Sex
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3120; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093120 - 30 Apr 2020
Abstract
Although childhood maltreatment is known to be associated with depressive symptoms, few studies have investigated the mediating effect of different types of coping styles on this association. It is unknown whether the impacts vary by sex. We investigated the mediating effects of different [...] Read more.
Although childhood maltreatment is known to be associated with depressive symptoms, few studies have investigated the mediating effect of different types of coping styles on this association. It is unknown whether the impacts vary by sex. We investigated the mediating effects of different coping styles on the relationship between childhood maltreatment and depressive symptoms among Chinese undergraduates, as well as the role of sex in the mediated pathways. A total of 7643 college freshmen and sophomores (5665 females, 1978 males; 4215 freshmen, 3428 sophomores; mean age, 19.67 years) from two colleges in China completed a standard questionnaire on the details of childhood maltreatment, depressive symptoms, and coping styles. Childhood maltreatment was significantly correlated with all coping styles and depressive symptoms studied (p < 0.001). Problem solving, self-blame, help seeking, problem avoidance, and rationalization mediated the relationship between childhood maltreatment and depressive symptoms. The estimated ratio of the effect of childhood maltreatment on the occurrence of depressive symptoms can be explained by the mediation of problem solving, self-blame, help seeking, problem avoidance, and rationalization, which accounted for 15.1%, 25.6%, 7.4%, 1.6% and 1.6% of the total effect, respectively. Sex differences were found to have mediating effects on coping styles in terms of the relationship between childhood maltreatment and depressive symptoms. The findings illustrate the need to focus on coping styles and to employ sex-specific methods to effectively help college students reduce depressive symptoms associated with childhood maltreatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)
Open AccessArticle
Factors that Influence Chinese Parents’ Intentions to Use Physical Violence to Discipline Their Preschool Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1787; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051787 - 10 Mar 2020
Abstract
This study explored factors affecting parents’ intentions to use physical violence (PV) to discipline their children in the future. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) guided selection of variables. A sample of 1337 preschool children’s parents from nine kindergartens located in a county [...] Read more.
This study explored factors affecting parents’ intentions to use physical violence (PV) to discipline their children in the future. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) guided selection of variables. A sample of 1337 preschool children’s parents from nine kindergartens located in a county of Henan Province, China were selected by stratified random cluster sampling. Data on parents’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control over PV, intentions to engage in PV to discipline their preschool children in the future, self-reported PV behavior toward their children during the past three months, and demographic characteristics were collected via a paper-based questionnaire. Multivariable logistic regression analyses examined putative predictors of parents’ intentions to use physically violent discipline. Nearly three-quarters of the sample said they definitely will not use violent discipline, while 23.4% either said they would use it, or did not rule it out. Logistic regression analysis showed that parents’ lower level of perceived behavioral control over using violence (OR 4.17; 95% CI: 2.659, 6.551), attitudes that support PV (OR 2.23; 95% CI: 1.555, 3.203), and having been physically violent with their children during the past three months (OR 1.62; 95% CI: 1.032, 2.556) were significantly associated with parents’ tendency either to include, or not exclude, the use of violent discipline. Parents’ subjective norms regarding PV had no significant impact on their intentions (p > 0.05). The influence of TPB constructs varied according to parents’ gender. Intervention programs that aim to reduce violent discipline should focus both on increasing parents’ perceived behavioral control over PV and changing their attitudes toward physically violent practices, especially among mothers and parents who have already used PV to discipline their children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)
Open AccessArticle
Childhood Trauma Is Associated with the Spirituality of Non-Religious Respondents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1268; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041268 - 17 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Childhood trauma experience (CT) is negatively associated with many aspects of adult life. Religiosity/spirituality (R/S) are often studied as positive coping strategies and could help in the therapeutic process. Evidence on this is lacking for a non-religious environment. The aim of this study [...] Read more.
Childhood trauma experience (CT) is negatively associated with many aspects of adult life. Religiosity/spirituality (R/S) are often studied as positive coping strategies and could help in the therapeutic process. Evidence on this is lacking for a non-religious environment. The aim of this study was to assess the associations of different types of CT with R/S in the secular conditions of the Czech Republic. A nationally representative sample (n = 1800, mean age = 46.4, SD = 17.4; 48.7% male) of adults participated in the survey. We measured childhood trauma, spirituality, religiosity and conversion experience. We found that four kinds of CT were associated with increased levels of spirituality, with odds ratios (OR) ranging from 1.17 (95% confidence interval 1.03–1.34) to 1.31 (1.18–1.46). Non-religious respondents were more likely to report associations of CT with spirituality. After measuring for different combinations of R/S, each CT was associated with increased chances of being “spiritual but non-religious”, with OR from 1.55 (1.17–2.06) to 2.10 (1.63–2.70). Moreover, converts were more likely to report emotional abuse OR = 1.46 (1.17–1.82) or emotional neglect with OR = 1.42 (1.11–1.82). Our findings show CT is associated with higher levels of spirituality in non-religious respondents. Addressing spiritual needs may contribute to the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic treatment of the victims. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)
Open AccessArticle
Study of the Differential Consequences of Neglect and Poverty on Adaptive and Maladaptive Behavior in Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 739; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030739 - 23 Jan 2020
Abstract
The consequences of physical neglect on retardation in the development of adaptive behaviors and the increased risk of poor physical and mental health are well documented. As physical neglect is a phenomenon found almost exclusively among socially deprived people, it is important to [...] Read more.
The consequences of physical neglect on retardation in the development of adaptive behaviors and the increased risk of poor physical and mental health are well documented. As physical neglect is a phenomenon found almost exclusively among socially deprived people, it is important to distinguish the health effects caused by neglect from those caused by poverty. The objective of this study was to compare the effects of poverty and physical neglect on the development of problematic externalizing and internalizing behaviors, adaptive skills, and school problems among school children between the ages of 3 and 12. A group of 157 children were chosen from 28 Andalusian schools and classified in three homogeneous groups. Children in group 1 (n = 53) had two target conditions: living in slums (poverty) and suffering from neglect. Children in group 2 (n = 52) had one target condition: living in the same slums as the children in group 1, but not suffering from neglect. Group 3 (n = 52) consisted of children from other (non-slum) neighborhoods who did not suffer from neglect. Adaptive and maladaptive behaviors were evaluated with the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC). Significant differences were found between group 1 and group 2, but there were no important differences between group 2 and group 3. The conclusion was that externalizing and internalizing problems, school problems, and low adaptive skills found in neglected children were associated with neglect rather than with poverty or socially deprived environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)
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Open AccessArticle
Child Maltreatment in Western China: Demographic Differences and Associations with Mental Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3619; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193619 - 26 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Child maltreatment has become a serious public health and social problem worldwide. However, knowledge regarding the status of child maltreatment in western China is limited. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the status of child maltreatment in western China [...] Read more.
Background: Child maltreatment has become a serious public health and social problem worldwide. However, knowledge regarding the status of child maltreatment in western China is limited. Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the status of child maltreatment in western China and its relationship with mental health. Participants and setting: The present study evaluated child maltreatment in a sample of 1511 children (Mage = 11.48 years) from western China. Methods: The participants completed questionnaires designed to collect demographic information and assess their experiences with maltreatment and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Results: In total, 12.3%, 14.0%, 1.3% and 28.1% of the children experienced physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect, respectively, while 186 children (12.3%) experienced multiple types of maltreatment. Boys were more likely to experience maltreatment than girls in most cases. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect had unique effects on depression symptoms. Physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect, but not sexual abuse, had unique effects on anxiety symptoms. Conclusions: The children who experienced maltreatment had higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Population-based prevention and educational programs should highlight the serious negative effects of maltreatment, especially emotional abuse and neglect, which have long been ignored in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)

Review

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Open AccessReview
The Relationship between Childhood Maltreatment and Risky Sexual Behaviors: A Meta-Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3666; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193666 - 29 Sep 2019
Abstract
Childhood maltreatment is associated with risky sexual behaviors (RSBs). Previous systematic reviews and meta-analysis focused only on the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and RSBs, thus the association between childhood maltreatment and RSBs has yet to be systematically and quantitatively reviewed. We aimed [...] Read more.
Childhood maltreatment is associated with risky sexual behaviors (RSBs). Previous systematic reviews and meta-analysis focused only on the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and RSBs, thus the association between childhood maltreatment and RSBs has yet to be systematically and quantitatively reviewed. We aimed to provide a systematic meta-analysis exploring the effect of childhood maltreatment and its subtypes on subsequent RSBs in adolescence and adulthood. PubMed, Google Scholar, EMBASE, Medline were searched for qualified articles up to April 2019. We calculated the pooled risk estimates using either the random-effect model or fixed-effect model. The potential heterogeneity moderators were identified by subgroup and sensitivity analysis. Overall, childhood maltreatment was significantly associated with an early sexual debut (odds ratio (OR) = 2.22; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.64–3.00), multiple sexual partners (OR = 2.22; 95% CI: 1.78–2.76), transactional sex (OR = 3.05; 95% CI: 1.92–4.86) and unprotected sex (OR = 1.59; 95% CI: 1.22-2.09). Additionally, different types of childhood maltreatment were also significantly associated with higher risk of RSBs. Relevant heterogeneity moderators have been identified by subgroup analysis. Sensitivity analysis yielded consistent results. Childhood maltreatment is significantly associated with risky sexual behaviors. The current meta-analysis indicates it is vital to protect children from any types of maltreatment and provide health education and support for maltreated individuals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Child Abuse, Mental Health and Resilience)
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