Diversity in adjustment of maltreated children: factors associated with resilient functioning

Clin Psychol Rev. 2006 Oct;26(6):796-812. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2006.03.005. Epub 2006 Jun 23.


Many decades of research indicate that physical abuse and neglect are associated with substantial risk for maladaptation across many developmental tasks of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Recent investigations, however, indicate that in spite of elevated risk for negative outcomes, some abused and neglected children demonstrate relatively positive adjustment and success in developmental tasks. An overview of studies of resilient functioning among maltreated children is provided, and results indicate that although a proportion of maltreated children do appear to be resilient to harsh and inadequate caretaking, resilient functioning might be short-lived and/or limited to single areas of functioning. A summary of factors associated with resilient functioning among abused and neglected children is provided. Such factors include individual child characteristics (e.g., self-regulatory processes), features of the child's family context (e.g., supportive parenting), and experiences in the broader environment (e.g., close friendships). Methodological considerations and recommendations for further research are provided, and implications of this literature for clinical and policy applications are presented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Psychology
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Behavior*