Neglected Children, Shame-Proneness, and Depressive Symptoms

David S. Bennett, Margaret Wolan Sullivan, Michael Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Neglected children may be at increased risk for depressive symptoms. This study examines shame-proneness as an outcome of child neglect and as a potential explanatory variable in the relation between neglect and depressive symptoms. Participants were 111 children (52 with a Child Protective Services [CPS] allegation of neglect) seen at age 7. Neglected children reported more shame-proneness and more depressive symptoms than comparison children. Guilt-proneness, in contrast, was unrelated to neglect and depressive symptoms, indicating specificity for shame-proneness. The potential role of shame as a process variable that can help explain how some neglected children exhibit depressive symptoms is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-314
Number of pages10
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • child neglect
  • depressive symptoms
  • guilt
  • shame


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