Problems of young adults are usually rooted in their childhood, and many psychologists and sociologists are interested in analyzing people’s past experiences and current achievements. Maltreatment in the childhood period occurs for different reasons, and not many adults or children are ready to report their problems. Although some abuse cases cannot be ignored any longer, and children’s rights are highly appreciated, the negative effects of child neglect still exist (Berber Çelik & Odacı, 2020). The level of self-respect in human life is critical because it is how a person develops relationships with peers and represents themselves to others. If child neglect could have a mediating effect on the self-esteem of a young adult, it has to be identified. In a variety of options to investigate the chosen problem, a quantitative questionnaire is one of the best methods for modern researchers. When young adults agree to participate in the study based on a questionnaire and share their experiences, a relationship between child neglect and self-esteem may be examined.
Research Question and Background
The choice of a research method and instrument is a vital step for any researcher, regardless of the topic for analysis. As soon as a scope of a problem is identified, it is necessary to analyze how to answer the current research question(s). In this study, the question is, “How does child neglect have a mediating effect on self-esteem as a young adult?” Many countries experience poor access to studies about the relationship between maltreatment in childhood and self-esteem in the adolescent period (Mwakanyamale & Yizhen, 2019). Therefore, cross-sectional studies with randomly selected populations are conducted to contribute to the problem solution. Longitudinal studies allow seeing a general picture within an extended period (Kong, 2018; Oshri et al., 2017). In addition, there are many other sources like archives, social service systems, and case files where researchers could find secondary information and reports (Bolger et al., 1998). All these approaches have benefits as they enhance a better understanding of a topic and prove that the problem exists and must be solved.
The theme of child neglect and its impact on self-esteem is chosen because of several reasons. First, maltreatment remains a serious social problem that includes emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and neglect (Oshri et al., 2017; Xiang et al., 2018). Although people experience challenges at a young age, these behaviors affect human needs with time, as most of them are unsatisfied due to a lack of care (Ayhan & Beyazit, 2021). Young people do not understand what provokes changes in their development and continue growing with a damaged mind. Secondly, abused children report various problems with time, ignoring their emotional deterioration. They may experience immediate injuries like broken bones or cuts or deferred complications like mental health disorders, unreasonable fears, and aggressiveness (Berber Çelik & Odacı, 2020; Wu et al., 2021). Finally, not many young adults are able to ask for professional help due to their shyness and low self-esteem. They have already suffered from mistrust, regret, and negative interpersonal interactions, and they cannot accept new social relationships properly (Ayhan & Beyazit, 2021). The behavioral and emotional difficulties of neglected children never disappear for good, making this theme essential for research.
In today’s society, families are free to develop their relationships in many ways, and parents should take responsibility for their children’s development and growth. Unfortunately, some adults fail to recognize their direct duties as caregivers, provoking maltreatment, abuse, and neglect. Children suffer from such negative behaviors that affect their self-esteem and future relationships in different communities. Therefore, researchers from all parts of the world investigate child neglect from multiple perspectives and use different methods to gather as much credible and actual information as possible.
There are many methods to examine self-esteem in people, and researchers should consider available time, resources, and actual goals. This study aims to clarify the mediating effect of child neglect on young adults’ self-esteem. There are two critical variables: child neglect (independent) and self-esteem (dependent). According to Howitt (2019), the concept of variable is rare in qualitative research but turns out to be essential as a statistical technique. The decision to use a quantitative methodology is made to identify the correlation between the two variables. Quantitative data is commonly used in studies when researchers prefer a stratified cluster-sampling of participants in large sample sizes (Oshri et al., 2017). At the same time, quantitative and qualitative methods can be mixed in psychology and social sciences to capture individual perspectives and combine them with multiple choices and a variety of descriptions (Howitt, 2019). However, mixed methods usually require much time and preparation to choose the population, establish enough contacts, and use the same method of gathering information. In this study, focused scientific and objective information is necessary to prove the relationship between self-esteem and maltreatment over the years.
Quantitative research methods may be of several types, depending on the offered criteria. In this study, choosing between primary and secondary research methods, the primary type will be used to make sure that new information about the topic is revealed. A nonexperimental research design is preferable in this case to avoid unnecessary manipulations of children or adults. This choice is also explained by the necessity to gather information from different periods of time (childhood and adulthood). A survey or questionnaire research method as a part of cross-sectional quantitative research will be conducted to avoid quantification of observations and in-depth interviews with many people. Cross-sectional surveys are developed to examine several characteristics in populations measured at one point. The goal of quantitative questionnaires is to gather a great deal of specific information about participants that should be analyzed by using statistical means (Jansson-Boyd, 2019). Surveys allow finding answers about the likelihood or frequency of something happening under specific conditions.
Questionnaires may be organized in different ways, but in most cases, Likert scales are included to quantify participants’ answers. Child maltreatment can be measured by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) (Mwakanyamale & Yizhen, 2019; Wu et al., 2021). This model was developed by Bernstein and Fink in 1997 as a self-reported inventory to screen the history of childhood neglect and abuse (Berber Çelik & Odacı, 2020; Mwakanyamale & Yizhen, 2019). There are 40 items to be answered with a 5-point Likert-type scale. However, in most studies, researchers prefer to use additional scales and questionnaires to gather enough material about the emotional conditions of participants. The Rosenberg global self-esteem scale was introduced with four items in the middle of the 1900s and extended to 10 items later to indicate the level of self-regards (Oshri et al., 2017; Mwakanyamale & Yizhen, 2019). All these surveys were introduced and checked by professional psychologists, which proves their credibility and appropriateness for social science research.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Any research method has its strengths and weaknesses, and, as an instrument to collect quantitative data directly from participants, a questionnaire attracts the researchers’ attention for several reasons. One of the evident causes for people to choose a questionnaire for a survey is its inexpensiveness. The only cost to be considered is access to a particular questionnaire, but the current technological progress allows finding the necessary material online for free. There is no need to hire an additional surveyor or assistant because it is possible to send all questionnaires via e-mail or deliver the material personally.
Another benefit of using questionnaires to examine the relationship between child abuse and self-esteem is its pragmatism and visualization. There is a possibility to target different groups of people and choose the populations from different parts of the world. In a short period, the researcher could invite many individuals, discuss the conditions of the study, and explain the participants’ responsibilities. As soon as people complete the offered surveys, their responses may be easily analyzed by specific software and programs and visualized with the help of interactive forms. Tables with descriptive or comparative statistics and graphs are preferred methods to share information in a clear and concise way (Bolger et al., 1998; Oshri et al., 2017; Wu et al., 2021). Finally, a large sample size and no time limits increase the involvement of many people interested in the chosen field. Participants enjoy their anonymity and the possibility to make their contributions to the examination of social interactions, stabilization of family relationships, and behavioral improvements.
In addition to a number of significant reasons for choosing a quantitative questionnaire to investigate the relationship between the self-esteem of adults and child neglect, there are several disadvantages of this approach to consider. The researcher has to understand that all answers to the questions are given by humans, which means the presence of subjectivity in data. Dishonest answers or thoughts based on personal experiences prevent achieving a clear and fair picture of a situation. The conditions under which people participate in the study are favorable for them, meaning they can withdraw from the study because of any personal reason or give no answers to the offered questions. As a result, the researcher cannot control the project. Sometimes, participants may misunderstand or misinterpret information, which is also a reason for subjectivity. Finally, there are always some technical problems that prevent sharing the material, contacting participants, or delivering the material as per the set deadlines. Thus, such surveys may be challenged by unpredictable problems and personal issues.
When researchers begin their projects with human participants, ethical considerations have to be properly identified and discussed to avoid various ethical dilemmas and unnecessary questions and concerns. The task of the researcher is to establish respectful and equal relationships with every participant and obtain approval from the committee or other organizations. In research, there are several critical ethical considerations, namely the “no harm” principle, confidentiality, anonymity, freedom for participation, and informed consent. If there is one data collection method in the study, participants cannot get both anonymity and confidentiality, and the researcher has to provide them with informed consent to explain what kind of study it is and what their roles will be. In quantitative questionnaires, data may be collected and held anonymously, and the researcher gives guarantees not to store or show anyone the IP address of the participant. No participants will be identified in this study about child abuse and self-esteem connection, and the only available demographic data is their age and gender.
Informed consent is a process during which participants get information about the researcher, the research intent, data type, level of commitment, and the ways in which data is stored, used, and reported. Finally, any researcher has to identify the potential risks of taking part in the study. In most cases, quantitative questionnaires have no specific risks for participants, except unpleasant memories, if any, are related to the topic. To avoid such risks or a possible conflict of interest, all participants are informed about the possibility of not continuing their questionnaires as soon as they find them inappropriate or inconvenient.
The investigation of the theme of child neglect and its mediating effect on the self-esteem of young adults can be conducted with the help of a quantitative questionnaire. There are many studies published within the last five years where a quantitative methodology is used to answer similar research questions and analyze the topic from various perspectives. Although the researchers may be challenged by the subjectivity and unpredictability of the chosen method, such benefits as simplicity, availability, and time-saving attract their attention. Maltreatment affects children in different ways, and it is necessary to identify variables and measurements to define its relation to self-esteem. The analysis of personal experience is required, and data collection determines the scope of the study. Most risks and complications can be properly managed and predicted if ethical considerations like informed consent, safety, and anonymity are considered while conducting research.
Ayhan, A. B., & Beyazit, U. (2021). The associations between loneliness and self-esteem in children and neglectful behaviors of their parents. Child Indicators Research, 14, 1863-1879. Web.
Berber Çelik, Ç., & Odacı, H. (2020). Does child abuse have an impact on self-esteem, depression, anxiety and stress conditions of individuals? International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 66(2), 171-178. Web.
Bolger, K. E., Patterson, C. J., & Kupersmidt, J. B. (1998). Peer relationships and self‐esteem among children who have been maltreated. Child Development, 69(4), 1171-1197.
Howitt, D. (2019). Introduction to qualitative research methods in psychology: Putting theory into practice (4th ed.). Pearson.
Jansson-Boyd, C. (2019). Quantitative research: Its place in consumer psychology. In P. M. W. Hackett (Ed.), Quantitative research methods in consumer psychology: Contemporary and data driven approaches (pp. 1-22). Routledge.
Kong, J. (2018). Childhood maltreatment and psychological well-being in later life: The mediating effect of contemporary relationships with the abusive parent. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 73(5), 39-48. Web.
Mwakanyamale, A. A., & Yizhen, Y. (2019). Psychological maltreatment and its relationship with self-esteem and psychological stress among adolescents in Tanzania: A community based, cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry, 19(1). Web.
Oshri, A., Carlson, M. W., Kwon, J. A., Zeichner, A., & Wickrama, K. K. (2017). Developmental growth trajectories of self-esteem in adolescence: Associations with child neglect and drug use and abuse in young adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 46(1), 151-164. Web.
Wu, Q., Cao, H., Lin, X., Zhou, N., & Chi, P. (2021). Child maltreatment and subjective well-being in Chinese emerging adults: A process model involving self-esteem and self-compassion. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 1-22. Web.
Xiang, Y., Wang, W., & Guan, F. (2018). The relationship between child maltreatment and dispositional envy and the mediating effect of self-esteem and social support in young adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. Web.