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A full and active experience of school has a positive effect on the health and achievements of children who experienced abuse or neglect at an early age.
Researchers at the University of Bristol looked at the influence of community factors such as education for children to successfully adapt if they were maltreated before the age of five.
Using parental survey data revealing emotional or physical maltreatment of children from Bristol’s Children of the 90s longitudinal study they were able to assess how the children had good health and educational achievements despite their disadvantaged start in life. They found that factors such as taking part in after school clubs, being happy with school and not being bullied contributed towards good exam grades and general wellbeing as well as having strong communication and social skills.
Dr Nisreen Khambati at the School of Social and Community Medicine commented: “Fortunately many children who have been abused physically or emotionally can ‘bounce back’ with a rounded and positive experience at school.
This research helps us understand more of the role of communities in protecting the resilience of individuals and how school-based interventions have an important role. Overall, we found evidence that good communication skills, enjoyment of school and extracurricular activities were important factors for children experiencing emotional maltreatment benefiting both emotional health and educational achievements.
“The next step is to examine how schooling might influence an individual throughout their life if they suffered from maltreatment as a child. Thanks to longitudinal studies such as Children of the 90s we’re able to look at these subjects during a whole life-span.”
Paper: Educational and emotional health outcomes in adolescence following maltreatment in early childhood: A population-based study of protective factors by Nisreen Khambati, Liam Mahedy, Jon Heron and Alan Emond in Child Abuse and Neglect.
Based at the University of Bristol, Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is a long-term health-research project that enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. It has been following the health and development of the parents and their children in detail ever since and is currently recruiting the children and the siblings of the original children into the study. It receives core funding from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol.
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