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The question of my research is does child maltreatment lead to an academic decline in 8-18-year old’s. My hypothesis is that if a child has experienced maltreatment then it will lead to a decline in their academic performance. My study’s design is a correlational study and my subjects are school age kids, beginning from early years as middle school through the end of high school. The independent variables being parental attitudes and beliefs of abuse and children’s view of abuse. The dependent variable being the academic progress. My methods of assessing my variables will be questionnaires as well as the Likert scale that Rodriquez (2003) used in his study. I will be analyzing the data by creating a correlational line graph that shows the maltreatment of child in correspondence to academic performance.
According to American SPCC, the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, states that there are 4.1 million children who report maltreatment every year nationally. They involve “7.5 million children, 18.3% of those victims are physically abused, almost five children die every day from child abuse, and 41.6% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse” (Child Abuse Statistics, 2017).
How it works
The study by Lansford et al. (2002), they wanted to look at whether child physical maltreatment early in life had long-term effects on kids’ mental health, their behavior, and their academic progress. The results were that adolescents who were maltreated early in life were absent about two more days than kids who were not, they were less likely to go to college than abused kids and had mental health issues. Also, the adolescents had an issue with social withdrawal that led them to having few peer relations. This is relevant to my topic because it talks about the academic aspect and psychological impact of maltreated kids, it allows you to see the impact maltreatment has on the grades of students as well as attendance and their levels of anxiety, aggression, depression, etc.
Romano et al. (2014), created their own approach that will help them see the relationship between childhood maltreatment and academic performance. They take a holistic approach, which can help in identifying academic performance in children’s academic achievement and mental state because they believe the two concepts are dependent on each other. Their findings suggest that children and adolescents with maltreatment in their past have a plummeting effect on their academic performance, which they found by looking at the performance of children on standardized achievement tests, looking at low GPAs, and school absences as well
In the study, by Slade and Wissow (2007), they used a dataset of U.S. adolescent sibling pairs, they explored the maltreatment effects on adolescents’ performance in middle school and high school. The results showed that maltreatment had a negative correlation with adolescents’ performance in school. They found that the more intense childhood maltreatment became the more correlated it was with low GPA and more problems they faced with finishing their homework. This study is relevant to my topic because it is within the age range that I want my study to be in, and it does a good job correlating the effects of childhood maltreatment with a rise in mental health and decrease of academic performance.
The study by Tanaka et al. (2011) think that self-compassion may be valuable in understanding the difficulties that are faced by maltreated kids. The results were that the higher the childhood emotional or physical abuse, the lower self-compassion rating those kids give themselves. Consequently, young kids with low self-compassion were likely to have elevated levels of stress, alcohol abuse, and suicide attempts that were nearly successful, as compared to kids that had high ratings of self-compassion. This study is relevant because it shows how the abuse can make an adolescent feel about themselves, and it can lead them down the wrong path if that abuse lowers their self-compassion. It can affect other aspects of life, not just mentality.
In the study by Björkenstam et al. (2016), stated that exposing children to household dysfunction leads to the worsening of their cognitive state. School performance has been linked with mental illness, but this article states that there is limited research so, in their study they are considering school performance as an arbitrate factor. They found that children who were unprotected from more than three predictors of household dysfunction, along with having low grades, had the greatest usage of psychiatric help compared to individuals exposed to no indicators and having high grades. School performance was found to arbitrate the relationship of psychiatric care and household disfunction. Their findings want future research to help in preventing negative effects of child household disfunction on mental state. In turn, it may be of importance to have strategies that can help improve academic performance for kids who are younger
These studies will help me evaluate my correlational study and create an accurate design for my study. It needs to be stated that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. These are just findings that have a relation with each other but it’s not a definite causation. The study I will be conducting is a cross-correlational study, there is a longitudinal study that I will be referencing to, but it is just to back up my prediction.
One hundred children and their parents will be recruited from schools in Stony Brook, New York, including elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Three schools were chosen and of them, one classroom per school was chosen to participate. There were consent forms given to all students to participate and for us to be able to look at their GPAs, the ones returned will be participating in the study. The demographics consist of parent’s gender, child’s gender and age. The way childhood maltreatment and its effect on school grades will be measured is by taking the two questionnaires used in Rodriquez (2003) as well as the Likert scale with a slight modification. “The parent measure consisted of brief scenarios that portray physical discipline of children, ranging from mild to borderline abusive.” (Rodriquez, 2003). Then, like Rodriquez, the parents will rate if they used similar punishment in each scenario on a Likert scale, instead of using a 7-point scale this study will use a 5-point scale, 1 being not at all to 5 being often. Then, the child measures will be taken by administering a Children’s Attributional Style Questionnaire that was used by Rodriquez in his experiment, the questionnaire is used mostly for ages 8 to 18-year old’s. “The children will select one of two options that best explains why a hypothetical situation in each situation would happen to them” and rate it on the Likert scale as well (Rodriquez, 2003). It is a positive correlation when both child and parent rates correlate. For example, if they both rated a 5 in a situation, then, that form of discipline is used the most and can be considered maltreatment. The scores from the two measures will be plotted on correlational graphs to see if there is a correlation between a parents and child’s view of maltreatment. Then, the children’s GPAs will be looked at, allowing us to see if the children that had a high correlation with parent scores also had a low GPA. There was no significant finding when the demographics were examined in relation to this study so, it will not be included in the analyzation.
The results I believe will indicate that if there are parents with more physically abusive attitudes and harsher discipline practices present in the household then the child’s academic achievement will suffer. The higher positive correlation between scores, the lower the GPA, indicating that the discipline or maltreatment methods can lead to a decline in academic performance. This will lead to the child to be withdrawn from events and have a hard time communicating with peers as a result of the abuse. My results are supported by the studies mentioned above in the introduction.
My findings will add to the field because there will be another study to reference to and if studies like this keep coming out the more able school are to help kids. It will show that there is a correlation with how a child is treated at home and how they will survive in the real world with the burden of being abused. This is a serious issue that is occurring in the world and it needs to be looked into because those kids at one point in their and our lives will be the future. We need to be able to equip them and make them able to survive in this world without them feeling that they aren’t good enough. People say grades are not everything, but they get you into colleges and if they already are not doing well they will have less chance of getting into college, and they know this.
There is a program that focuses on an early intervention program for young parents and children who have been identified as being at risk of child maltreatment. The program only has results from mother and child. This is relevant because this can provide insight to the help available for parents who are at risk of maltreating their children and that it is possible to change the way you treat your children, granted when you put your ego aside and realize that you need help. I believe this will be helpful if we can get more parents into the program. I believe that future research should look into kids who are in abusive households and are going to therapy. I feel like if those kids improve academically and mentally, this will shed light on therapy and move away from the stigma that therapy is for the crazy people.
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