Child abuse and mental health among adolescents in dependent care

Roberta A. Hibbard, Craig Spence, Oliver C.S. Tzeng, Terrell Zollinger, Donald P. Orr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Do adolescents in dependent care who have been abused or neglected demonstrate more mental health problems than their nonabused peers? This study examined relationships of child abuse, depression, and self-esteem among 82 adolescents (mean age 14.5 years, 52% male, 82.9% white) living in a dependent care facility. Of these, 32 adolescents were victims of child abuse or neglect. Upon admission, 54 adolescents were identified as depressed on the Beck Depression Inventory. Initial scores on the depression and self-esteem instruments did not differ by age, race, or history of maltreatment, though trends among subtypes of abuse were identified. Females had significantly lower self-esteem and tended toward more depression. Repeat evaluation 6 months after admission revealed significant improvement in both depression and self-esteem scores for the entire sample. As a group, however, the maltreated adolescents did not demonstrate significant improvement in depression, and a history of neglect was associated with less improvement. Depression in this dependent care sample was common, however, we did not identify the maltreated adolescents as having significantly more problems with self-esteem or depression. For some adolescents, dependent care may be an appropriate and helpful alternative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1992


  • Adolescents Child abuse Depression Self-esteem Dependent care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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    Hibbard, R. A., Spence, C., Tzeng, O. C. S., Zollinger, T., & Orr, D. P. (1992). Child abuse and mental health among adolescents in dependent care. Journal of Adolescent Health, 13(2), 121-127.