The longitudinal design of this study enabled the examination of the developmental timing of exposure of children to family violence, as well as mediating risk and protective factors through which child exposure to family violence was linked to short-term and long-term outcomes.
The study involved a prospective multigenerational (two generations) data set that involved community families with lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The study first examined the prevalence of child exposure to psychological and physical interparent violence (IPV) and parent-to-child aggression (PCA), as well as proximal associations with child externalizing and internalizing behaviors, along with social and scholastic development in early childhood and adolescence. This was followed by an examination of the developmental timing and intergenerational transmission of exposure to IPV and PCA related to child externalizing behavior. Child efforts at self-control and positive parenting as risk and protective factors were tested as mediators of links between child exposure to family violence and later child adjustment. The study found that although psychological and physical IPV and PCA in general were both associated with child externalizing and/or internalizing behavior in early childhood and adolescence in the correlational analyses, PCA was also associated with poorer social and/or scholastic competence across ages. Child exposure to higher levels of psychological and physical PCA heightened the risk for later child externalizing behavior indirectly through the mediating effects of poorer child self-control. Generally, the findings suggest that effective programs that can strengthen parent and child factors, such as parent involvement with the child, and child self-control, may help to reduce the impact of early child exposure to family violence on later child adjustment. 28 references