Cognitive functioning of child protection clients in secure care: a neuropsychological study

Ruvceska, Vidanka (2009) Cognitive functioning of child protection clients in secure care: a neuropsychological study. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The aim of this research was to carry out a systematic prospective study of the cognitive functioning of young persons residing in a secure care facility. These adolescents have been identified as being at an immediate risk for harm and are placed in a secure facility to establish safety. Typically, these young persons have been in protective care for some years, and represent a cohort of maltreated children at the severe end of the spectrum. More recently, it has been recognized that as a group, these children are exposed to risk factors for neuropsychological deficit. The present study adopted a neuropsychological perspective to document the pattern and extent of their cognitive impairments. The results of the study indicated that Secure Welfare participants performed significantly worse than controls in all cognitive domains, including working memory, executive functioning, learning and memory, visuo-perceptual function and processing speed. Overall cognitive functioning, as represented by the WISC IV FSIQ was almost one standard deviation below the population mean. The data suggests that most adolescents with histories of maltreatment experience a number of cognitive difficulties, and, these difficulties are not specific to those identified as intellectually disabled. The implications of such deficits are potentially profound, influencing academic performance, adaptive behaviour and social functioning. As these deficits are not consistent with a specific neuropsychological disorder, these adolescents remain misunderstood and unsupported in their activities across various aspects of functioning.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1702 Cognitive Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords child protection, cognitive functioning, young people, adolescents, neurophysical deficit, maltreated children
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