The effect of child physical abuse and neglect on aggressive, withdrawn, and prosocial behavior

Claudia T. Prino, Mark Peyrot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


This study investigated aggressive, withdrawn, and prosocial behavior in physically abused (N = 21), nonabused-neglected (N = 26), and nonabused-nonneglected (N = 21) children aged 5 to 8 years. Multiple assessment techniques were used, specifically the Human Figure and Kinetic Group Drawings, children's verbal stories, and teacher ratings on the Pittsburgh Adjustment Survey Scales. All measurement techniques were able to discriminate among the three groups. Physically abused children displayed significantly more aggressive behavior than the neglected and nonmaltreated; neglected children were significantly more withdrawn than the physically abused and nonmaltreated; nonmaltreated children exhibited significantly more prosocial behavior than the abused and neglected. No single dimension adequately discriminated each of the three groups. Full discrimination was achieved only when aggressive, withdrawn, and prosocial behavior were combined in a multivariate analysis, indicating that effects of maltreatment must be viewed as multidimensional.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-884
Number of pages14
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Abuse
  • Aggression
  • Neglect
  • Prosocial
  • Withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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