Role of Direct and Indirect Violence Exposure on Externalizing Behavior in Children
- 689 Downloads
The objective of this study was to examine the association between externalizing behaviors and indirect violence exposure, assessed both within the household and at the community level, as well as the interaction effect of indirect and direct violence exposure. A sample of parents of children ages 4–15 who have not been referred or enrolled in child welfare (n = 82) were recruited from the greater New Orleans community. Externalizing behavior was assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). The child’s indirect exposure to violence included witnessing community violence, witnessing physical assault, and witnessing fighting or domestic violence at home. Direct exposure to violence included the child experiencing physical aggression from a caregiver. All assessments were based on caregiver reports. To decrease potential for confounding, children were matched for analysis based on age, Hurricane Katrina exposure, and their propensity to be exposed to high indirect violence. Cumulative indirect exposure to violence was significantly positively correlated with CBCL scores. After controlling for key covariates, CBCL externalizing T score increased significantly by approximately 1.25 points for each level increase in indirect violence exposure (β = 1.25, SE = 0.57, p = 0.027). There also was a significant interaction between indirect and direct exposure to violence in the association with CBCL score (β = −0.08, SE = 0.03, p = 0.002). These findings extend previous research by demonstrating that exposure to both direct and cross-contextual indirect violence influences externalizing behaviors in children. Additionally, the findings suggest that community and household social environments are both important targets for interventions designed to decrease externalizing behaviors and improve long-term outcomes for youth at risk of exposure to violence.
KeywordsChildhood exposure to violence Cumulative exposure to violence Indirect exposure to violence Direct exposure to violence Community violence Household violence Child physical aggression Child externalizing behaviors
This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH; R01ES020447 and P60AA009803-RC5 to Dr. Theall, and R21MH094688 and R01MH101533 to Dr. Drury) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, R01CE002327 to Dr. Taylor).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This study was approved by the Tulane University Health Sciences Center Institutional Review Board.
- 8.Farrington DP. Childhood aggression and adult violence: early precursors and later life outcomes. In: Pepler DJ, Rubin RH, eds. The development and treatment of childhood aggression. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; 1991.Google Scholar
- 47.Finkelhor D, Turner, H., Ormrod, R., Hamby, S., & Kracke, K. Polyvictimization: children’s exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, and abuse. Juvenile Justic Bulletin: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justic and Delinquency Prevention. 2011; 1-11. Google Scholar
- 57.Rutter M, Garmezy N, Rutter M. Stress, coping and development in children. In: Garmezy N, Rutter M, eds. Stress, coping and development: some issues. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1983.Google Scholar
- 66.Oaks J, Kaufman J. Methods in social epidemiology. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2006.Google Scholar
- 67.Achenbach TM, Rescorla L. Manual for the ASEBA school-age forms & profiles: an integrated system of multi-informant assessment. Burlington, VT: ASEBA; 2001.Google Scholar
- 69.Straus MA, Hamby SL. Measuring physical & psychological maltreatment of children with the conflict tactics scales. In: Kantor GK, Jasinski JL, eds. Out of the darkness: contemporary research perspectives on family violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 1997.Google Scholar
- 70.Aiken LS, West SG, & Reno RR. Multiple regression: testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 1991. Google Scholar