Exploring Family Multi-type Maltreatment, Social Support, and Externalizing and Internalizing Problems Among Asian and Asian American College Students

Yoko Baba, James D. Lee, Michael E. Vallerga


Exposure to family violence as a child has a detrimental long-term impact on one’s life. This relationship is under-researched in Asian populations in the United States or in Asian countries. This study examined long-term effects of maltreatment, including interparental violence and child maltreatment on externalizing and internalizing problems experienced by Asian and Asian American college students. We also explored protective effects of social support against the negative consequences of family maltreatment. Surveying 542 college students in Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, and the United States, we measured effects of family maltreatment on problem outcomes and examined the role of social support. Exposure to dual harm of family maltreatment (i.e., intraparental violence and child maltreatment) increased students’ externalizing problems compared to exposure to one type of family maltreatment, but no differences in internalizing behaviors were found. Effects of social support from parents and peers on externalizing and internalizing problems were neither moderating nor mediating, but direct. Those who received parental support had fewer externalizing behaviors, but effects of peer support were not significant. In contrast, those who obtained parental and peer support showed lower levels of internalizing mental health concerns. Surprisingly, men exhibited more mental health issues than women. Exposure to dual harm increases behavioral problems, but family support can help repair damage among Asian and Asian American college students. The relationship between abuse and problem outcomes was similar across countries, indicating common psychological processes.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.20849/ajsss.v5i3.780


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Asian Journal of Social Science Studies  ISSN 2424-8517 (Print)  ISSN 2424-9041 (Online)  

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