PENELOPE K. TRICKETT was a professor of social work and psychology, as well as a developmental psychologist whose research focused on the developmental consequences of child abuse and/or neglect on children and adolescents and on the characteristics of families in which such abuse occurs. She earned an Independent Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health titled "The Developmental Consequences of Child Abuse and Violence." In addition, Trickett conducted two longitudinal studies. One, nearly 30 years in the making, concerns the psychobiological impact of familial sexual abuse on female adolescents and young adults. The second is a study of the impact of neglect, alone or in combination with other forms of maltreatment, on young adolescent development. Trickett also directed a university-wide interdisciplinary violence research initiative at the University of Southern California.
Dr. Penelope Trickett likens her work as a developmental psychologist to reading a mystery novel—a methodical act of piecing together bits of evidence. But her mysteries are more complicated than a simple whodunit and can take many years of detective work before they begin to unravel. Trickett, a professor of social work and psychology, studies the developmental consequences of abuse on children and adolescents. Her foremost contribution to the field, a longitudinal study on sexually abused girls, is still a work in progress after decades of gathering and interpreting clues.
Along with her studies at Bryn Mawr College, where she cultivated an interest in psychology, three major influences have shaped Trickett’s professional development. First was a postdoctoral position at Yale University studying disadvantaged youth with Edward Zigler, one of the creators of Head Start. In a later position at the National Institute of Mental Health, Trickett gained an understanding of pubertal development. The advent of feminism served as the third influence, giving women the courage to start reporting instances of sexual abuse in their past. Suddenly, it became accepted that family members were capable of sexual abuse. This revelation, coupled with her interest in disadvantaged children and puberty, led Trickett to pursue a new sub-concentration in psychological research: the long-term effects of sexual abuse on young women.
When Trickett began her longitudinal study on sexually abused girls in the early 1990s, she never thought she would still be working on it decades later. The original design sought to assess the psychobiological consequences of intra-familial sexual abuse on a sample of about 80 girls during the course of a decade, but she has received multiple funding extensions. Though the study has resulted in roughly 50 publications, it was only in April 2011—after interviewing and surveying participants and many of their children multiple times during the previous 24 years—that Trickett’s team published a definitive account of the study detailing their findings and offering novel ideas for dealing with this form of sexual trauma. Trickett and her colleagues emphasized the importance of treatment sessions for sexually abused women, citing evidence that trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective in treating posttraumatic stress disorder and other health-related consequences. Moreover, they recommended that treatment continue as children age, as symptoms of psychopathology can take years to manifest and are often missed in observational cross-sectional studies.
Trickett also heads a longitudinal study on childhood neglect and substance abuse, and along with Dr. Jacquelyn McCroskey, leads a research core on child development and children’s services. She regularly involves doctoral students in her research, offering both a window into her specific social work niche and ample research and dissertation opportunities.
Ji, J., Trickett, P. K., & Negriff, S. (in press). Multidimensional self-perception of sexually abused girls: Factor models and differences between sexually abused and comparison groups. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment.
Negriff, S., Ji, J., & Trickett, P. K. (2011). Exposure to peer delinquency as a mediator between self-report pubertal timing and delinquency: a longitudinal study of mediation. Development and Psychopathology. 23(1). 293-304.
Kim, K., Trickett, P.K., & Putnam, F. (2010). Childhood experiences of sexual abuse and later parenting practices among non-offending mothers of sexually abused and comparison girls. Child Abuse and Neglect. 34(8), 610-622.
Noll, J. G., Shenk, C. E., Yeh, M. T., Ji, J., Putnam, F. W., & Trickett, P. K. (2010). Receptive language ability and educational attainment across development for sexually abused females. Pediatrics. 126(3), e615-622.
Kim, M., Sang, K., J, J. & Trickett, P.K. (2010). Child neglect: Definition and identification of adolescents. Child Abuse and Neglect. 34(9), 647-658.
Mennen, F.E., Brensilver, M. & Trickett, P.K. (2010). Do maltreated children who remain at home function better than those who are placed. Children and Youth Services Review. 32(12), 1675-1682.
Trickett, P.K., Kwako, L.E., Noll, J.G. & Putnam, F.W. (2010). Childhood sexual abuse and attachment: An intergenerational perspective. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 15(3), 407-422.
Trickett, P.K., Gordis, E., Feres, N., Olezeski, C. & Rabkin, A. (2010). Skin conductance reactivity and respiratory sinus arrhythmia among maltreated and comparison youth: Relations with aggressive behavior. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 35(5), 547-558.
Trickett, P.K., Negriff, S., Noll, J.G., Shenk, C.E. & Putnam, F.W. (2010). Associations between nonverbal behaviors and subsequent sexual attitudes and behaviors of sexually abused and comparison girls. Child Maltreatment. 15(2), 180-189.
Trickett, P.K., Noll, J.G., Susman, E.J., Shenk, C.E. & Putnam, F.W. (2010). Attenuation of cortisol across development for victims of sexual abuse. Development and Psychopathology. 22, 165-175.
Trickett, P.K., Barnes, J.E., Noll, J.G. & Putnam, F.W. (2009). Sexual and physical revictimization among victims of severe childhood sexual abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect. 33(7), 412-420.
Trickett, P.K., Mennen, F.E., Kihyun, K. & Sang, J. (2009). Emotional abuse in a sample of multiply-maltreated, urban young adolescents: Issues of definition and identification. Child Abuse and Neglect. 33, 27-35.
Trickett, P.K., Noll, J.G. & Putnam, F.W. (2009). The cumulative burden borne by offspring whose mothers were abused as children: Descriptive results from a multigenerational study. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 24(3), 424-447.
Trickett, P.K., Negriff, S. & Fung, M.T. (2008). Self-rated pubertal development, depressive symptoms and delinquency: Measurement issues and moderation by gender and maltreatment. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. 37(6), 736-746.
Trickett, P.K., Aisenberg, E., Garcia, A., Ayon, C. & Mennen, F. (2008). The co-occurrence of community violence and child maltreatment among racially diverse adolescents: Assessing risk for mental health and behavior problems. Special issue on exposure to violence: A significant issue for children and families. Protecting Children. 53, 20-31.
Trickett, P.K., Gordis, E., Granger, D.A. & Susman, E.J. (2008). Salivary alpha amylase-cortisol asymmetry in maltreated youth. Hormones and Behavior. 53, 96-103.
Bonanno, G. A., Colak, D. M., Keltner, D., Shiota, M. L., Papa, A., Noll, J. G., Putnam, F. W., & Trickett, P. K. (2007). Context matters: The benefits and costs of expressing positive emotion among survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Emotion. 7(4), 824-837.
Trickett, P.K., Kim, K. & Chung, I. (2007). Social support characteristics among mothers with and without childhood sexual abuse trauma. Korean Journal of Social Welfare Studies. 35, 215-237.
Mennen, F.E. & Trickett, P.K. (2007). Mental health services to urban minority children. Children and Youth Services Review. 29, 1220-1234.
Trickett, P.K., Kim, K., Noll, J.G. & Putnam, F.W. (2007). Psychosocial characteristics on non-offending mothers of sexually abused girls: Findings from a prospective, multigenerational study. Child Maltreatment. 12(4), 338-361.
Aisenberg, E., Trickett, P.K., Mennen, F.E., Saltzman, W. & Zaya, L. (2007). Maternal depression and adolescent behavior problems: An examination of mediation among immigrant Latino mothers and their adolescent children. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 22(10), 1227-1249.
Trickett, P.K., Noll, J.G., Schulkin, J., Susman, E.J., Breech, L. & Putnam, F.W. (2007). Differential pathways to preterm delivery for sexually abused and comparison women. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 32(10), 1-11.
Trickett, P.K., Noll, J.G., Zeller, M.H. & Putnam, F.W. (2007). Obesity risk for female victims of childhood sexual abuse: A prospective study. Pediatrics. 120(1), 61-67.
Trickett, P.K., Feerick, M., Flanzer, S. & Knutson, J. (2006). Child Abuse and Neglect: Definitions, Classification, and a Framework for Research. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.
Trickett, P.K. & Ghisletta, P. (2006). Application of Latent Growth Analyses to Health Outcomes of Adolescent Girls. In A. D. Ong and M. van Dulmen (Eds.) Handbook of Methods in Positive Psychology. (pp. 453-466). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Trickett, P.K. (2006). Defining child sexual abuse. In M. Feerick, J. Knutson, P. K. Trickett, & S. Flanzer (Eds.) Child Abuse and Neglect: Definitions, Classifications, and a Framework for Research. (pp. 129-149). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.
Trickett, P.K. (2006). Forward. In M. Feerick & G. Silverman (Eds.) Children Exposed to Violence. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.
Trickett, P.K., Gordis, E.B., Granger, D.A. & Susman, E.J. (2006). Symmetry between salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase reactivity to stress: Relation to aggressive behavior in adolescents. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 31, 976-987.
Trickett, P.K., Noll, J.G., Susman, E.J. & Putnam, F.W. (2006). Sleep disturbances and childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 31, 241-252.
Tricket, P.K., Kurtz, D.A. & Noll, J.G. (2005). The Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse for Female Development. In D. Bell-Dolan, S. Foster, & E. Mash (Eds.) Handbook of Behavioral and Emotional Disorders in Girls. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Trickett, P.K., Nagrao, C., Bonanno, G.A., Noll, J.G. & Putnam, F.W. (2005). Shame, humiliation, and childhood sexual abuse: Distinct contributions and emotional coherence. Child Maltreatment. 10, 350-363.
Trickett, P.K. & Gordis, E. (2004). Aggression and antisocial behavior in sexually abused females. In K. Bierman & M. Putallez (Eds.) Aggression, Antisocial Behavior and Violence among Girls: A Developmental Perspective. New York: Guilford.
Trickett, P.K., Kurtz, D. & Pizzigati, K. (2003). Resilient outcomes in abused and neglected children: Bases for strength-based interventions and policies. In K. Maton, C. Schellenbach, B. Leadbeater, & A. Solarz (Eds.) Investing in children, youth, families,and communities: A strengths-based approach to research and policy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Trickett, P.K., Duran, L. & Horn, J.L. (2003). Community violence as it affects child development: Issues of definition. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. 6(4), 223-236.
Trickett, P.K., Noll, J.G., Horowitz, L.A., Bonanno, G. & Putnam, F.W. (2003). Revictimization and self-harm in females who experienced childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 18, 1452-1471.
Trickett, P.K., Bonanno, G., Noll, J.G., Putnam, F.W. & O'Neill, M. (2003). Predicting the willingness to disclose childhood sexual abuse from measures of repressive coping and dissociative tendencies. Child Maltreatment. 8, 302-318.
Trickett, P.K., Noll, J.G. & Putnam, F.W. (2003). A prospective investigation of the impact of childhood sexual abuse on the development of sexuality. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 71, 575-586.