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Maltreatment and youth delinquency : the relationships between physical neglect and delinquent behaviour in young males : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for a Masters by thesis only in Psychology, Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand
Current maltreatment research speculates neglect is more prevalent than abuse, is associated
with other forms of maltreatment in 95% of cases, and can go unnoticed until other forms of
maltreatment are brought to the attention of authorities (Arthur, 2007). Even though any
form of maltreatment is detrimental to the development of a young person; neglect has been
significantly associated with youth delinquency and insecure attachment (Robertson, 2009;
Zielinski, 2009). Neglect however, is the most understudied and least understood form of
maltreatment (McSherry, 2007). This study aimed to explore neglect and its relationship
with insecure attachment and youth delinquency. Eighty one young males, aged 16 – 20
years were recruited from community organisations and a school located in the lower North
Island of New Zealand. The young people were assigned into two groups - delinquent group
and non-delinquent group. Three questionnaires were administered: Childhood Trauma
Questionnaire, Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire, and Self-Report Delinquency Scale.
Results indicated that overall maltreatment, overall abuse, overall neglect, physical abuse,
and physical neglect were all significantly associated with youth delinquency. The more
severe the experience of physical abuse or physical neglect the more likely the young person
was to display delinquent behaviour. There was no association found between attachment
and delinquent behaviour, possible reasons for this are discussed. Physical neglect was the
only type of maltreatment to remain significant after the school group was removed.