Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Impact of Intimate Partner Violence on Preschool Children's Peer Problems: An Analysis of Risk & Protective Factors

It is unclear whether there is variation in the impact of intimate partner violence (IPV) on child peer problems, and which individual and environmental factors might predict such variation. 

This study uses data from 7,712 children (3,974, 51.5% boys) aged 4 from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Children were cross-categorized based on exposure to IPV from birth to 3 years, and mother-rated peer problems at age 4, into 4 groups: Resilient, Non-resilient, Vulnerable and Competent. Between-group differences in maternal depression, maternal life events, parenting, attachment, and temperament were analyzed, and these variables were also examined as predictors of group membership. Girls were more likely to be identified as resilient. In contrast to the non-resilient group, resilient boys were less emotional, had more secure attachment to their mothers, more interaction with their mothers’ partner, and their mothers reported fewer life events. For girls, the resilient group was less emotional, more sociable, and their mothers reported less depression. Temperament played a stronger role in resilience for girls than boys. 

There are sex differences in predictors of resilience to IPV within the peer problems outcome domain, which suggests that different approaches to intervention may be needed to foster resilience in boys and girls exposed to IPV.

...Consistent with previous research (Graham-Bermann et al., 2009Grych et al., 2000Howell et al., 2010,Martinez-Torteya et al., 2009), maternal depression and life events were both implicated in resilience. Children who were exposed to IPV were also more likely to have mothers who reported higher levels of both depression and life events, confirming the correlation between risk factors, and resilient children were exposed to greater levels of risk and protective factors than non-resilient children, which mirrors the findings of previous person-oriented studies (e.g. Martinez-Torteya et al., 2009). Life events were more important in differentiating boys’ resilience-group membership, whereas maternal depression was more important to girls’ membership. Martinez-Torteya et al. (2009) found that the levels of maternal life events experienced by mothers of resilient and non-resilient children did not significantly differ, although the levels reported by those who experienced IPV versus those who did not were significantly different. In the present study, the difference in maternal life events was significant between for the resilient and non-resilient groups, but only for boys. In addition, in the present study, maternal depression differentiated the resilient group from the groups not exposed to IPV but only for boys. For girls, maternal depression differentiated the resilient from non-resilient and competent groups with those exposed to IPV (resilient and non-resilient) also exposed to higher levels of maternal depression than those not exposed to IPV (competent). These subtle variations are difficult to account for. Previous studies suggest a uniform influence of maternal depression with IPV-exposed groups reporting higher levels of maternal depression than non-IPV exposed groups (e.g. Graham-Bermann et al., 2009). In the single previous study to adopt Masten's (2001) four categories of adaptation (Martinez-Torteya et al., 2009) sex differences were not examined. Therefore, it is possible that such differences did exist but were masked. The present study therefore highlights the importance of examining sex differences in relation to the predictors of risk and resilience in the context of IPV. Further research is required that includes the explicit examination of sex differences in order to develop an understanding of the potential consistency of such effects and their meaning.

Family characteristics predicted resilience for boys, whereas for girls, temperament played a greater role. Partner interaction distinguished the resilient group from non-resilient (resilient more interaction), vulnerable (resilient less interaction), and competent (resilient less interaction) groups for boys. Vulnerable and competent girls also experienced more interaction than resilient ones. Previous studies have reported that positive parenting plays a role in resilience to IPV (Kolbo, 1996). These findings show that increased positive interaction with the mother's partner is associated with better child outcomes...

Full article at:

Centre for Research in Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry CV1 5FB, England, UK

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