Family Relationships as Risks and Buffers in the Link between Parent-to-Child Physical Violence and Adolescent-to-Parent Physical Violence

  • Laura BeckmannEmail author
Original Article


The present study examined the extent to which beneficial and hazardous family relationships altered the link between childhood exposure to parent-to-child physical violence and self-reported adolescent-to-parent physical violence (APV). As moderating factors, current levels of family cohesion, family conflict, and interparental violence were assessed. Based on data from 2490 ninth graders who took part in a large school survey in the federal state of Lower Saxony, Germany, multilevel linear probability models with interaction terms were conducted, using Stata 14.2. In case of significant interactions, values at 1 standard deviation above and below the mean level of each moderator were used to calculate the simple slopes. Regression results indicated that physical APV was positively related to parent-to-child physical violence. Family cohesion buffered detrimental effects of parent-to-child physical violence on physical APV, while family conflict exacerbated this link. Specifically, parent-to-child physical violence had weaker effects on physical APV for students who reported greater levels of family cohesion, while stronger effects were observed for students who reported greater levels of family conflict. Gender was not found to influence the strength of the moderating relationships. Both hazardous and beneficial family relationships alter the way childhood exposure to parental physical violence relates to adolescents’ physical aggression toward parents. For intervention purposes, special attention should be given to potential buffering resources, such as cohesive family relationships. In sum, quality of family relationships deserve greater attention in discourse about lasting, adverse effects of childhood exposure to physical violence on adolescent-to-parent physical violence.


Parent-to-child physical violence Adolescent-to-parent violence Moderators Family relationships Family conflict 



I very much thank Marie Christine Bergmann, the project manager of the student survey, for kindly providing the corresponding data. I would also like to thank Solveig Haselbach for her support in the editing process.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Criminological Research Institute of Lower SaxonyHannoverGermany

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