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Gender Role and Gender as Predictors of Behavior Problems in Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence

Abstract

Children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) are likely to develop behavior problems, but findings are mixed regarding whether girls and boys are differentially affected. Bem (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 31, 634–643, 1975) argued that gender role is an important predictor of mental health, and this relationship may differ for males and females due to societal gender norms. Given the gendered nature of IPV, we examined whether gender role interacted with gender to predict behavior problems in IPV-exposed children (n = 176). Among four-year-old children, gender-typed gender roles were a risk factor for girls but not boys, and androgynous gender roles were protective for both boys and girls on average. However, post hoc analyses indicated the amount of IPV exposure mattered; androgynous girls exposed to chronic IPV had more behavior problems. Results illustrate the importance of societal and family gender norms in determining children’s risk for behavior problems following exposure to IPV.

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Correspondence to Kathryn E. Smagur.

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This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control to the second and third authors.

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Smagur, K.E., Bogat, G.A. & Levendosky, A.A. Gender Role and Gender as Predictors of Behavior Problems in Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence. J Fam Viol 32, 157–168 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-016-9890-3

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Keywords

  • Gender role
  • Gender
  • Children
  • Behavior problems
  • Intimate partner violence