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School Performance and IQ

The following is a summary of the systematic review findings up to the date of our most recent literature search. If you have a specific clinical case, we strongly recommend you read all of the relevant references as cited and look for additional material published outside our search dates.



13 studies addressed school performance and IQ 1-13


Multiple tools were used, the majority of which were only used by one study. Three studies used the Peabody Picture Vocabulary test 3,10,13 and four used school reports, recording special educational needs and grade retention / repetitions 1,5,6,9



  • Six studies addressed IQ 2-4,8-10, of which three noted that neglected children had a lower IQ overall 2-4,8
  • The more severe the neglect, the lower the IQ 4
  • The neglected children also had poor executive decision making 2. The more neglected the children, the worse their receptive vocabulary (age 6-9 years) 3
  • Two studies showed no difference in IQ among neglected children versus controls 9,10; Reyome et al used a non-verbal measure (self-drawing) 9 and Toth et al used the receptive language component of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary test as an indirect measure of IQ 10
  • Physically neglected children showed no difference in non-verbal IQ when compared to those experiencing supervisory neglect, although the latter had a higher verbal IQ 8


School Performance

  • Children who were neglected had more grade repetitions compared to controls 1,5,9. One study did not note any difference in grade retention 6
  • More children experiencing neglect had special educational needs than controls 1,9 however one study did not find this association 6
  • Neglected children had lower numeracy, literacy and English than controls 5,9
  • Neglected children had a less positive impression of their own academic performance 6,10
  • Neglected children had worse results than controls on manual dexterity, auditory attention and visual-motor integration. They were however were better at problem solving, abstraction and planning than controls 7



  •  Three articles by the same authors addressed memory among neglected children 11-13
  • There was no difference in negative self-representations nor over-general memory (difficulty in remembering specific autobiographical features) between neglected children and controls, however the neglected children had higher warmth scores 13
  • On memory testing, there was no difference in false recall between neglected children and controls, although all children had low recall. However, the neglected children had more negative false recalls and less positive false recalls than other children 12
  • Neglected children did not show memory deficits in comparison to controls 11

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  1. De Paúl J, Arruabarrena MI. Behavior problems in school-aged physically abused and neglected children in Spain. Child Abuse & Neglect. 1995;19(4):409-18 [Pubmed]

  2. Fishbein D, Warner T, Krebs C, Trevarthen N, Flannery B, Hammond J. Differential relationships between personal and community stressors and children's neurocognitive functioning. Child Maltreatment. 2009;14(4):299-315 [Pubmed]

  3. Kantor GK, Holt MK, Mebert CJ, Straus MA, Drach KM, Ricci LR, MacAllum CA, Brown W. Development and preliminary psychometric properties of the multidimensional neglectful behavior scale-child report. Child Maltreatment. 2004;9(4):409-28 [Pubmed]

  4. Kaufman J, Jones B, Stieglitz E, Vitulano L, Mannarino AP. The use of multiple informants to assess children's maltreatment experiences. Journal of Family Violence. 1994;9(3):227-248 [Abstract available from Springer Link]

  5. Kendall-Tackett KA, Eckenrode J. The effects of neglect on academic achievement and disciplinary problems: a developmental perspective. Child Abuse & Neglect. 1996;20(3):161-9 [Pubmed]

  6. Kinard EM. Characteristics of maltreatment experience and academic functioning among maltreated children. Violence & Victims. 2001;16(3):323-37 [Pubmed]

  7. Nolin P, Ethier L. Using neuropsychological profiles to classify neglected children with or without physical abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2007;31(6):631-43 [Pubmed]

  8. Petrenko CL, Friend A, Garrido EF, Taussig HN, Culhane SE. Does subtype matter? Assessing the effects of maltreatment on functioning in preadolescent youth in out-of-home care. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2012;36(9):633-644 [Pubmed]

  9. Reyome ND. A comparison of the school performance of sexually abused, neglected and non-maltreated children. Child Study Journal. 1993;23(1):17-38 [Abstract available from APAPsycNET]

  10. Toth SL, Cicchetti D. Patterns of relatedness, depressive symptomatology, and perceived competence in maltreated children. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology. 1996;64(1):32-41 [Pubmed]

  11. Valentino K, Cicchetti D, Rogosch FA, Toth SL. Memory, maternal representations, and internalizing symptomatology among abused, neglected, and nonmaltreated children. Child Development. 2008;79(3):705-719 [Pubmed]

  12. Valentino K, Cicchetti D, Rogosch FA, Toth SL. True and false recall and dissociation among maltreated children: the role of self-schema. Development & Psychopathology. 2008;20(1):213-32 [Pubmed]

  13. Valentino K, Toth SL, Cicchetti D. Autobiographical memory functioning among abused, neglected, and nonmaltreated children: the overgeneral memory effect. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. 2009;50(8):1029-38 [Pubmed]


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