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Child Abuse Negl. 2006 Mar;30(3):283-306.

Effects of early and later family violence on children's behavior problems and depression: a longitudinal, multi-informant perspective.

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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD 20895, USA.



To examine the effects of different forms of family violence at two developmental stages by assessing a sample of 110 Israeli children, drawn from the case files of Israeli family service agencies, studied longitudinally in both middle childhood and adolescence.


Information about the children's adjustment was obtained from parents, teachers, and the children themselves when the children averaged 10.6 and 15.9 years of age using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), Teacher Report Form (TRF), Youth Self-Report (YSR), and Children's Depression Inventory (CDI). Information about the history of family violence was obtained from the mothers, fathers, children, and social workers.


The results paint a mixed picture of the effects of family violence on children and adolescents. The relationship between concurrent behavior problems and abuse group varied by informant and study phase, although they were strongest when children were the informants. Predictions regarding the relationship between early abuse and later adjustment were only partially confirmed. Different informants did not agree about which groups of children were most adversely affected, there was little stability over time in the pattern of reported effects, and children were more likely than other informants to report levels of maladjustment that varied depending on recent or concurrent exposure to family violence. Many families changed their abuse status over time, and children who were new victims at follow-up had the most internalizing problems. Girls were found to be at more risk for internalizing and externalizing behavior problems than boys.


Multiple informants are necessary to evaluate and assess the effects of family violence on children's behavior. Younger children may be more susceptible to the effects of family violence than older children, but problems manifest by some children may not carry over to adolescence. Changes in family and parenting practices, as well as in children's capacity to appraise and cope with family violence may help mitigate the adverse effects of family violence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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