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Rev Saude Publica. 2011 Apr;45(2):355-64. Epub 2011 Feb 11.

Impact of exposure to intimate partner violence on children's behavior.

[Article in English, Portuguese]

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Programa de Pós-Graduação em Medicina Preventiva, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Dr. Arnaldo 455, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



To analyze the relationship between intimate partner violence (IPV) against women and children's dysfunctional behaviors and school problems.


Population-based study part of the WHO Multicountry Study on Domestic Violence Against Women including 790 women living with their children aged five to 12 years in two different regions of Brazil: the city of São Paulo, Southeastern Brazil, and Zona da Mata area in the state of Pernambuco, Northeastern Brazil. Three multivariate models were developed to estimate the strength of the relationship between explanatory variables such as social and community support, stressful events of life, sociodemographic factors and "IPV severity," among others, and three outcomes: number of dysfunctional behaviors; aggressive behavior; and school problems (interruption, drop out or failure).


Exposure to severe physical and/or sexual IPV was associated to school problems, behavioral dysfunctions in general and aggressive behaviors in the univariate analysis. Exposure to severe IPV against women was associated to the occurrence of three or more dysfunctional behaviors in their children, regardless of common mental disorder, low schooling, physical IPV against maternal grandmother, social and community support in the multivariate models. Severe IPV remained associated to aggressive behavior and school problems after adjustment for other sociodemographic variables, among others. Maternal mental health status was identified as a mediating factor between IPV exposure and dysfunctional behaviors, especially aggressive behaviors.


Severe IPV affects children's behaviors and should be addressed in health policies for school-aged children through the development of common interventions for mothers and children.

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