Research data show that exposure to abuse and neglect has detrimental effects on a child’s language development. In this meta-analysis, we analyze studies (k = 23), to compare the language skills (receptive language, expressive language, pragmatics) of children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect with the language skills of children who have not experienced abuse and/or neglect and to examine whether age or type of maltreatment moderate the relationship between maltreatment and language skills. Results confirm that the language skills of children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect are delayed when compared to children who have not experienced abuse and/or neglect. Compared to older children, young children seem particularly vulnerable to abuse and neglect. No significant differences were demonstrated concerning the type of maltreatment suffered by the child. These findings support the necessity of early detection of language problems in abused and neglected children as well as early intervention in order to implement interventions that will positively stimulate their development.
Child Maltreatment, 21(1), 47-58