Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 360–371 | Cite as

Aggression by Children Exposed to IPV: Exploring the Role of Child Depressive Symptoms, Trauma-Related Symptoms, & Warmth in Family Relationships

  • Caroline C. Piotrowski
  • Margherita Cameranesi
Original Article


Multi-informant reports of aggression by siblings in families with and without a history of IPV were compared. Associations between aggressive behavior and child depressive and trauma-related symptoms, as well as maternal and sibling warmth were also explored. Mothers, observers and the siblings themselves reported on aggressive behaviour. Mothers reported on child trauma-related symptoms while children provided self-report on depressive symptoms and mother–child and sibling warmth. The frequency of observed aggression did not differ across groups on average, although more sibling dyads exposed to IPV engaged in aggression than those not exposed. Child reports of sibling aggression did not differ across groups but mothers reported significantly less aggressive behavior by children exposed to IPV than those not exposed. Regression results indicated that depressive and trauma-related symptoms were significant risk factors for aggression, while the role of mother–child and sibling warmth was more complex. Results were discussed within a developmental psychopathology framework.


Aggression Siblings Exposure to violence Trauma Depression Warmth 


  1. 1.
    Achenbach TM (1991) Manual for the youth self-report and 1991 profile. Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Beck A, Steer R (1987) Manual for the beck depression inventory. Guilford Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bowes L, Wolke D, Joinson C, Lereya S, Lewis G (2014) Sibling bullying and risk of depression, anxiety, and self-harm: a prospective cohort study. Am Acad Pediatr 134(4):e1032-e1039. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0832 Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Brody GH (1998) Sibling relationship quality: its causes and consequences. Annu Rev Psychol 49:1–24CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Buist K, Deković M, Prinzie P (2013) Sibling relationship quality and psychopathology of children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev 33(1):97–106. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2012.10.007 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Buist K, Vermande M (2014) Sibling relationship patterns and their associations with child competence and problem behavior. J Fam Psychol 28(4):529–537. doi: 10.1037/a0036990 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Campione-Barr N, Lindell A, Greer K, Rose A (2014) Relational aggression and psychological control in the sibling relationship: mediators of the association between maternal psychological control and adolescents’ emotional adjustment. Develop Psychopathol 26(3):749–758. doi: 10.1017/SO954579414000364 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Card N, Little T (2006) Proactive and reactive aggression in childhood and adolescence: a meta-analysis of differential relations with psychosocial adjustment. Int J Behav Dev 30(5):466–480. doi: 10.1177/0165025406071904 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Carliner H, Gary D, McLaughlin K, Keyes K (2017) Trauma exposure and externalizing disorders in adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement. J Am AcadChild Adolesc Psychiatry. doi: 10.1016/j/jaac.2017.06.006 Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Caspi J, Barrios V (2016) Destructive sibling aggression. In: Cuevas C, Rennison C (eds) The wiley handbook on the psychology of violence. Wiley, London, pp 297–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cicchetti D (2006) Development and psychopathology. In: Cicchetti D, Cohen D (eds) Developmental psychopathology, (2nd edn. Vol. 1 Theory and Method) Wiley, Hoboken, pp 1–23Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Coke S, Moore L (2016) Factors influencing female caregivers’ appraisals of their preschoolers’ behaviors. J Pediatr Health Care. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2016.01.006 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dirks M, Persram R, Recchia H, Howe N (2015) Sibling relationships as sources of risk and resilience in the development and maintenance of internalizing and externalizing problems during childhood and adolescence. Clin Psychol Rev 42:145–155. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2015.07.003 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Dutton D, Karakanta C (2013) Depression as a risk marker for aggression: a critical review. Aggress Viol Behav 18(2):310–319. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2012.12.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Finkelhor D, Turner H, Ormrod R (2006) Kid’s stuff: the nature and impact of peer and sibling violence on younger and older children. Child Abuse Neglect 30:1401–1421. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2006.06.006 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fong V, Hawes D, Allen J (2017) A systematic review of risk and protective factors for externalizing problems in children exposed to intimate partner violence. Trauma Violence Abuse. doi: 10.1177/1524838017692383 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Graham-Bermann S, Gruber G, Howell K, Girz L (2009) Factors discriminating among profiles of resilience and psychopathology in children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV). Child Abuse Neglect 33(9):648–660. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.01.002 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Grogan-Kaylor A, Stein S, Clark H, Galano M, Graham-Bermann S (2017) Profiles of children’s thinking about violence in families exposed to intimate partner violence. J Child Fam Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10826-017-0787-4 Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Holmes M (2013) The sleeper effect of intimate partner violence exposure: long-term consequences on young children’s aggressive behavior. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 54(9):986–995. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12071 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Howell K (2011) Resilience and psychopathology in children exposed to family violence. Aggress Violent Behav 16:562–569. doi: 10.1016/j.avb.2011.09.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Howell K, Barnes S, Miller L, Graham-Bermann S (2016) Developmental variations in the impact of intimate partner violence exposure during childhood. J Injury Viol Res 8(1):43–57. doi: 10.5249/jivr.v8i1.663 Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Iturralde E, Margolin G, Shapiro L (2013) Positive and negative interactions observed between siblings: moderating effects for children exposed to parents’ conflict. J Res Adoles 23(4):716–729. doi: 10.1111/jora.12020 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Izaguirre A, Calvete E (2015) Children who are exposed to intimate partner violence: interviewing mothers to understand its impact on children. Child Abuse Neglect 48:58–67. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.05.002 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Klostermann S, Connell A, Stormshak E (2014) Gender differences in the developmental links between conduct problems and depression across early adolescence. J Res Adoles 26(1):76–89. doi: 10.1111/jora.12170 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kovacs M (1992) Childrens depression inventory manual. Multi-Health Systems, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Kowal A, Kramer L, Krull J, Crick N (2002) Children’s perceptions of the fairness of parental preferential treatment and their socioemotional well-being. J Fam Psychol 16:297–306. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.16.3.297 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Labella M, Masten A (2017). Family influences on the development of aggression and violence. Current Opinion in PsychologyGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Miller L, Grabell A, Thomas A, Bermann E, Grahan-Bermann S (2012) The associations between community violence, television violence, intimate partner violence, parent-child aggression, and aggression in sibling relationships of a sample of preschoolers. Psychol Viol 2(2):165–178. doi: 10.1037/a0027254 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Milot T, Ethier L, St-Laurent D, Provost M (2010) The role of trauma symptoms in the development of behavior problems in maltreated preschoolers. Child Abuse Neglect 34(4):225–234. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.07.006 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Muller J, Achtergarde S, Furniss T (2011) The influence of maternal psychopathology on ratings of child psychiatric symptoms: an SEM analysis on cross-informant agreement. Eur Child Adoles Psychiatry 20(5):241–252. doi: 10.1007/s00787-011-0168-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Piotrowski C, Siddiqui A (2004) Sibling violence in childhood & adolescence: issues and directions in prevention. In: Ateah C, Mirwaldt J (eds) Within our reach: policies, programs & practices to prevent abuse across the lifespan. Fernwood & RESOLVE, Halifax, pp 30–46Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Relva I, Fernandes M, Mota C (2013) An exploration of sibling violence predictors. J AggressConflict Peace Res 5(1):47–61. doi: 10.1108/17596591311290740 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Rohner R (1991) Handbook for the study of parental acceptance and rejection. University of Connecticut, StorrsGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Ruggiero K, McLeer S (2000) PTSD scale of the child behavior checklist: concurrent and discriminant validity with non-clinic-referred sexually abused children. J Trauma Stress 13(2):287–299CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Skopp N, McDonald R, Jouriles E, Rosenfield D (2007) Partner aggression and children’s externalizing problems: maternal and partner warmth as protective factors. J Fam Psychol 21(3):459–467. doi: 10.1037/0893-3200.21.3.459 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Sousa C, Herronkohl T, Moylan C, Tajima E, Klika J, Herrenkohl R, Russo M (2011) Longitudinal study on the effects of child abuse and children’s exposure to domestic violence, parent-child attachments, and antisocial behavior in adolescence. J Interpers Viol 26(1):111–136. doi: 10.1177/0886260510362883 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Statistics Canada (1999). Low-income cut-offs. Household Sureveys Division, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Stormshak E, Bellanti C, Bierman K (1996) The quality of sibling relationships and the development of social competence and behavioral control in aggressive children. Dev Psychol 32(1):79–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Stocker CM, McHale SM (1992) The nature and family correlates of preadolescents' perceptions of their sibling relationships. J Soc Pers Relatsh 9(2):179–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Straus M (1979) Measuring intrafamily conflict and violence: the conflict tactics (CT) scales. J Marriage Fam 41(1):75–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Tucker C, Finkelhor D, Shattuck A, Turner H (2013) Prevalence and correlates of sibling victimization types. Child Abuse Neglect 37:213–223. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2013.01.006 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Tucker C, Finkelhor D, Turner H, Shattuck A (2014) Family dynamics and young children’s sibling victimization. J Fam Psychol 28(5):625–633. doi: 10.1037/fam0000016 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Vu N, Jouriles E, McDonald R, Rosenfield D (2016) Children’s exposure to intimate partner violence: a meta-analysis of longitudinal associations with child adjustment problems. Clin Psychol Rev 45:25–33. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2016.04.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Waddell J, Pepler D, Moore T (2001) Observations of sibling interactions in violent families. J Commun Psychol 29(3):241–258. doi: 10.1002/jcop.1016 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Wolfe VV, Gentile C, Wolfe DA (1989) The impact of sexual abuse on children: a PTSD formulation. Behav Ther 20(2):215–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Yoon S, Kobulsky J, Voith L, Steigerwald S, Holmes M (2015) Gender differences in caregiver-child relationship mediation of the association between violence exposure severity and adolescent behavior problems. Child Abuse Neglect 50:104–115. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.10.012 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Yoon S, Steigerwald S, Holmes M, Perzynski A (2016) Children’s exposure to violence: the underlying effect of posttraumatic stress symptoms on behavior problems. J Trauma Stress 29(1):72–79. doi:  10.1002/jts.22063 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline C. Piotrowski
    • 1
  • Margherita Cameranesi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Community Health Sciences, Max Rady College of MedicineUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Applied Health Sciences ProgramUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations