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Social Functioning

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.


8 studies (10 publications) addressed social functioning 1-10 (overlapping data between 3&4 and 8&9)


Multiple tools were used, and peer nominations were used in four publications 5,6,8,9


  • The children exhibit difficulties in being accepted by other children, making friends and developing reciprocated friendships 1-9
  • Neglected children have difficulties with daily living activities, in particular a delay in personal care skills, ability to complete domestic tasks, or to form interpersonal relations, in comparison to controls 10. The neglected children also showed a low socialisation score in comparison to controls
  • Those who were emotionally maltreated from a young age are less likely to have a best friend and those with chronic maltreatment gain fewer friends over time 1
  • Children have a strong desire to please others and overcompensate in their efforts to achieve this 3,4
  • Two studies did not identify differences between the neglected or emotionally abused children compared to controls in their peer nominations 5,7

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  1. Bolger KE, Patterson CJ, Kupersmidt JB. Peer relationships and self-esteem among children who have been maltreated. Child Development. 1998;69(4):1171-97 [Pubmed]

  2. 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]

  3. Finzi R, Har-Even D, Shnit D, Weizman A. Psychosocial characterization of physically abused children from low socioeconomic households in comparison to neglected and nonmaltreated children. Journal of Child and Family Studies. 2002;11(4):441-453 [Abstract available from Springer Link]

  4. Finzi R, Har-Even D, Weizman A. Comparison of ego defenses among physically abused children, neglected, and non-maltreated children. Comprehensive Psychiatry. 2003;44(5):388-95 [Pubmed]

  5. Kaufman J, Cicchetti D. Effects of maltreatment on school-age children's socioemotional development: Assessments in a day-camp setting. Developmental Psychology. 1989;25(4):516-524 [Abstract available from APAPsychNET]

  6. Kim J, Cicchetti D. Longitudinal pathways linking child maltreatment, emotion regulation, peer relations, and psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. 2010;51(6):706-16 [Pubmed]

  7. Kinard EM. Perceived social skills and social competence in maltreated children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 1999;69(4):465-81 [Pubmed]

  8. Manly JT, Cicchetti D, Barnett D. The impact of subtype, frequency, chronicity, and severity of child maltreatment on social competence and behavior problems. Development and Psychopathology. 1994;6(1):121-143 [Abstract available from Cambridge Journals Online]

  9. Manly JT, Kim JE, Rogosch FA, Cicchetti D. Dimensions of child maltreatment and children's adjustment: contributions of developmental timing and subtype. Development & Psychopathology. 2001;13(4):759-82 [Pubmed]

  10. Viezel KD, Lowell A, Davis AS, Castillo J. Differential profiles of adaptive behavior of maltreated children. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. 2014;6(5):574-579 [Abstract available from APA PsychNET]


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