Coping resources of maltreated children in the family: a salutogenic approach

Child Abuse Negl. 2001 Nov;25(11):1463-80. doi: 10.1016/s0145-2134(01)00285-x.


Objective: Most research in child maltreatment within family focuses mainly on the pathological damage caused to the battered child. This study, based on a salutogenic approach, focuses on the resources that may help maltreated children to cope with their state and stay well.

Method: Resilience was measured by two variables: perceived competence and psychological distress. The moderating or buffering variables that may contribute to better coping were: sense of family coherence, psychological sense of school membership, and social support. Two hundred and twenty-six 8th graders answered an anonymous self-report inventory. Based on the students' answers, they were divided into two groups: those who reported that they had been maltreated (MC) (n = 81) and those who did not (NMC) (n = 145).

Results: The study revealed a significantly high percentage of adolescents (35.6%) who reported having been maltreated within their families. A significant difference was found between the MC and the NMC in levels of perceived competence (higher for the NMC) and psychological distress (higher for the MC group). The moderating variables were found to have a differential effect on the dependent variables within the two groups. Sense of family coherence was found to be the main contributor to variance explanation of perceived competence among the MC, while sense of school membership had the main effect among NMC.

Conclusions: The findings support a salutogenic approach in studying maltreated children. Implications on the possible detection of maltreated children in the community and on their coping resources that may contribute to resilience are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Family / psychology*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires