a1 Vanderbilt University
a2 Auburn University
a3 Indiana University
The effect of early physical maltreatment on the development of peer relationships was examined in a representative sample of 585 boys and girls. Subjects were assessed for physical maltreatment in the first 5 years of life and then followed for 5 consecutive years. The assessment was based on a clinical interview with parents. Twelve percent of the sample was identified as having experienced physical maltreatment. Peers, teachers, and mothers independently evaluated the maltreated group of children as being more disliked, less popular, and more socially withdrawn than the nonmaltreated group in every year of evaluation, with the magnitude of difference growing over time. These effects held even when family socioeconomic status was controlled. The findings were interpreted as being consistent with the hypothesis that early maltreatment disrupts attachment relationships with adult caregivers, and these disruptions then impair a child's ability to form effective peer relationships.
c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kenneth A. Dodge, Box 86 GPC, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203.