Educational strengths and functional resilience at the start of primary school following child maltreatment

Jason M. Armfield, Lesley Anne Ey, Carole Zufferey, Emmanuel S. Gnanamanickam, Leonie Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background and objective: This study explored the associations between child maltreatment and functional resilience at school commencement, and investigated factors related to resilience separately for boys and girls. Participants and setting: Children were part of a birth cohort of all children born in South Australia between 1986 and 2017 who had completed the Early Australian Development Census (AEDC) at about age 5–6 years when starting primary school (N = 65,083). Methods: Multivariable logistic regression analysis was conducted with a subsample of 3414 high-risk children who had a maltreatment substantiation or investigation, with resilience defined as having well or highly developed strengths on the Multiple Strength Indicator of the AEDC. Results: CPS involvement was strongly associated with poorer functioning at school commencement. Among high-risk children, 51.2% demonstrated resilience. Predictors of resilience in the multivariable model were being older, not having an emotional condition, and being read to at home. Risk factors were being male, living in rural or remote areas, having a physical or sensory disability, or having a learning disability. Boys who had been maltreated demonstrated few strengths and had less resilience than girls. Boys and girls who were read to regularly at home had more than three times the odds of showing resilience than children who were not read to at home. Conclusions: The early learning environment provides an ideal opportunity to identify and intervene to help those children who are struggling with school adjustment following familial maltreatment. Boys are likely to need additional help.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105301
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Child maltreatment
  • Child protection system involvement
  • Early development vulnerabilities
  • Multiple Strength Index
  • Resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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