35th Edition (April 2013)

Date Published: 

Goldstein, A., Wekerle, C., Tonmyr, L., Thornton, T., Waechter, R., Pereira, J., Chung, R., MAP Research Team. (2011). The relationship between post-traumatic stress symptoms and substance use among adolescents involved with child welfare: Implications for emerging adulthood. International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 9, 507-524.

The maltreatment of children is a public health and social concern, especially given the potential for negative consequences throughout the lifespan.  Of particular interest for the current study is the well-established relationship between child maltreatment and alcohol use, drug use, and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) among adolescents.  The current study examines how PTSS contributes to substance use and substance-related problems in a sample of older adolescents and emerging adults involved with the child welfare system.  The current research is the secondary analysis of the Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathways (MAP) longitudinal study.  Findings suggest that anger and dissociation, as two facets of PTSS, over and above background and maltreatment variables among older adolescents involved with the child welfare system were significant predictors of substance abuse and related problems.  Authors suggest the findings are especially important for adolescents exiting the child welfare system and the need for increased supports during this time. 


Guibord, M., Bell, T., Romano, E., & Rouillard, L. (2011). Risk and protective factors for depression and substance use in an adolescent child welfare sample. Children and Youth Services, 33, 2127-2137.

Youth living in out-of-home care exhibit risk for impairments in mental health functioning, yet despite adverse maltreatment experiences youth also exhibit resilience.  The current study examines the association of maltreatment and health indicators on the mental health functioning of youth.  Specifically, depressive symptoms and substance use were examined in a sample of 12 to 15 year old males involved with the child welfare system because of family violence in the home.  Results suggest that slightly more than half of the sample was considered to be resilient, meaning they did not report elevated depressive symptoms or the use of drugs or alcohol over the previous year.  Youth with higher quality caregiver relationships experienced fewer depressive symptoms.  Further statistical analyses indicate that females were almost six times more likely to experience depression than males, and that with each yearly increase in age there is a 2.58 times increase in probability of substance use.  Lastly, an increase in extracurricular activities resulted in a decreased chance of experiencing depression or substance use in comparison to experiencing both issues.  Authors suggest that focusing on high quality caregiver relationships and youth participation in extracurricular activities may be used to support youth living in out-of-home care and a reduction in depressive symptoms and substance use.


Piotrowski, C. (2011). Patterns of adjustment among siblings exposed to intimate partner violence. Journal of Family Psychology, 25(1), 19-28.

Numerous studies have illustrated the elevated risk of short and long-term socioemotional problems of children who have been exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV).  This study examines siblings’ perceptions of the mother-child relationship and whether views differ across patterns of adjustment.  Participants, including families with a history of IPV and at least two siblings between five to 18 years, were recruited through community ads.  Several variables (e.g., child externalizing problems, child internalizing problems, quality of the sibling relationship, quality of the mother-child relationship) were measured for association.  Overall, five distinct adjustment patterns emerged. A notable difference between the younger and older sibling groups is self-esteem level.  Results suggest that as children grow older they become more self-aware of their behavioural difficulties and perceive themselves less favorably.  The mother-child and sibling relationships were found to play a significant, but different role in patterns of adjustment.  Asymptomatic younger and older siblings reported warmer mother-child relationships, the absence of hostility in this relationship was especially important for older siblings.  Similarly, a warmer and less hostile sibling relationship was important in distinguishing patterns of adjustment.  Authors suggest the findings have important clinical implications and represent a better understanding towards developmental pathways for siblings in violent families.


Singh, V.-A. S., Thornton, T., & Tonmyr, L. (2011). Determinants of substance abuse in a population of children and adolescents involved with the child welfare system.  International Journal of Mental Health Addiction, 9, 382-397.

Substance misuse is an important issue confronting youth involved with the child welfare system.  The current study employed a secondary analysis of the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect – 2003 (CIS – 2003) to explore risk and protective factors for substance, alcohol and drug/solvent abuse in youth age ten to 15 years.  Specifically, the analysis compared youth substance abuse among all investigations and youth substance abuse among substantiated investigations of a national child welfare sample.  Substance abuse in youth was almost equal between all investigations and substantiated investigations only, 14% and 16% respectively.  Caregiver substance abuse was found to be a significant predictor of youth substance use in regression models; however, youth-related variables illustrated a stronger association with youth substance abuse.  Negative peer involvement, irregular school attendance, and running away from home were found to have the greatest association with youth substance abuse for substantiated investigations.  Authors suggest that the study’s implications are important for the need to target early intervention towards youth with a history of substance abuse, in order to reduce the probability of the youth becoming adults with substance abuse problems.