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J Interpers Violence. 2015 Jun;30(10):1651-70. doi: 10.1177/0886260514552441. Epub 2014 Oct 6.

Lasting effect of intimate partner violence exposure during preschool on aggressive behavior and prosocial skills.

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Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA.


Intimate partner violence (IPV) exposure can negatively affect children's social behavior. However, it is unknown if the negative effects of IPV exposure during the preschool years are sustained through the early school years, if maladaptive behavior in one domain (e.g., aggressive behavior) is linked to subsequent maladaptive behavior in a different developmental domain (e.g., prosocial skill deficits), and if these relations differ by gender. This study addresses these gaps by using data from a sample of 1,125 children aged 3 to 4 at Time 1 and aged 5 to 7 at Time 2 from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. A series of nested longitudinal structural equation models were tested. Aggressive behavior and prosocial skills were stable across time. Time 1 IPV was associated with increased aggressive behavior at Time 1, which in turn was related to increased Time 2 aggressive behavior. Gender differences emerged; Time 2 IPV was associated with prosocial skills deficits for girls but not boys. A cross-domain relation existed between Time 1 aggressive behavior and Time 2 prosocial skills deficits for boys but not girls. These findings support that behavioral problems demonstrated later in childhood may emerge from earlier adverse developmental experiences and that difficulties in one domain may spill over into other developmental domains. Gender-specific interventions to promote competence in children may contribute to diverting children from maladaptive developmental outcomes.


aggressive behavior; gender differences; intimate partner violence exposure; prosocial skills

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