U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Effect of Children's Presence On Alcohol Use By Spouse Abusers and Their Victims

NCJ Number
Family Relations Volume: 48 Issue: 1 Dated: 1999 Pages: 57-65
Date Published
9 pages

This study examined whether children being present when spousal abuse occurred was related to alcohol use by spouse abusers and victims at the time of the abuse.


Of the 650 cases examined, 66.8 percent had at least one of their own children living in the home. This percentage increased to 71.1 percent if step-children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, brothers, and sisters were included. Based on this sample of women who had called the police, the data indicate that the presence of children had relatively little impact on the drinking behavior of offenders and victims at the time of an abusive incident. When demographic variables and the presence of children were controlled, there was a somewhat lower probability of drinking by males with children present; however, among those who do drink, lower income White males consumed more alcohol when children were present. Among abused women, children's presence was not associated with a lower likelihood of drinking when demographic variables were controlled, although there was a tendency in this direction for both the probability of drinking and the amount consumed. Male drinking, coupled with abusiveness, was far higher than for females, regardless of the presence of children. Children who grow up in families where alcohol is part of normal family patterns coupled with aggression and violence, there is a risk for a child's subsequent problem behavior, including alcohol abuse and violent behavior. Data were obtained from both police reports and through interviews with domestic assault victims. The description of the study's methodology includes a sample profile, alcohol measures, and the measure of children present. Statistical analysis included bivariate cross-tabulations for the three categorical variables (drinking, relative alcohol consumption, and drunk at incidents) and analysis of difference between means (number of drinks consumed at incident). 3 tables and 70 references

Date Published: January 1, 1999