One thousand, five hundred and fifty eight youth from three schools in Southwestern Ontario were sampled to examine connections between high risk behaviour, the influence of peers and childhood experience of maltreatment. High risk behaviour, according to the authors, includes substance abuse and criminal behaviour. The authors used the Childhood Trauma questionnaire to measure child maltreatment history, 10 items to measure peer group control, 12 items to assess motivations for peer popularity and control behaviour, information from the National Longitudinal Study of Children and Youth to examine alcohol use, and 15 items to measure delinquency.
Results suggested that peers influence processes related to risky behaviour among youth and that a history of maltreatment and neglect made it more likely for youth to report higher rates of susceptibility to peer group control and higher rates of risky behaviour. Youth who reported a history of severe child maltreatment, both emotional and physical, and scored high on scales related to peer group acceptance scored the highest on delinquent behaviour measures. The authors interpreted these findings by stating “group processes are important beyond experiences of childhood maltreatment and exacerbate these early negative experiences” (p.1259).