Background/Objective: About 16% of documented cases of maltreatment take
place in adolescence, a developmental period which carries unique vulnerability. Studies
investigating the impact of physical abuse find negative outcomes in cognitive functioning
and academic performance, both in the short and long term. The present study aims to
examine the impact of documented adolescent physical abuse on adolescent and adult
Methods: This longitudinal study is comprised of two waves of data following a cohort of
individuals who were physically abused in adolescence and a non-abused comparison group.
We assessed academic and occupational achievement of 145 young adults (67 abused, 78
non-abused) via academic records, standardized achievement test scores, parental academic
achievement, IQ, and teacher ratings of internalizing and externalizing behaviors at time 1
and the highest academic degree, current work status, history of job loss at time 2 (10-14
Results: School performance of the abused participants at time 1 showed lower grades and
achievement scores, more teacher-rated problems, and more special school services than the
comparison group. At the second time, the abused group completed significantly fewer years
of schooling and was more likely to have lost a job. Grades at the first time, gender, parents’
education, and an abuse status by IQ interaction were significant predictors of the number of
years of schooling at the second time.
Conclusion: This study highlights the pervasive impact that adolescent physical abuse can
have on academic functioning and documents how these difficulties can set the stage for
continuing challenges in young adulthood.