skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 202081 Find in a Library
Title: Diversity of Children's Immediate Coping Responses to Witnessing Domestic Violence (From The Effects of Intimate Partner Violence on Children, P 123-147, 2003, Robert A. Geffner, Robyn S. Igelman, and Jennifer Zellner, eds. -- See NCJ-202075)
Author(s): Nicole E. Allen; Angela M. Wolf; Deborah I. Bybee; Cris M. Sullivan
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 25
Sponsoring Agency: Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press
Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
Sale Source: Haworth Maltreatment and Trauma Press
10 Alice Street
Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study explored the immediate coping strategies that children used in response to witnessing physical and emotional violence against their mothers by an intimate partner.
Abstract: A total of 80 women and 80 of their children were recruited from a variety of sources, including 2 domestic violence shelter programs, a community-based family services agency, and a State social services department. Eligibility requirements were that the women had at least one child between the ages of 7 and 11 living with them and that the mother had experienced domestic violence within the prior 4 months. The research used pre-existing measures in addition to measures created specifically for this study. A modified version of the Conflict Tactics Scale was used to assess the assailant's physical abuse of the mother over the prior 4 months. A shortened version of the Index of Psychological Abuse was used to assess the assailant's emotional abuse of the mother over the prior 4 months, and a 12-item scale was used to assess the types of injuries mothers received from the assailants over the prior 4 months. A scale was developed specifically for this study to measure children's behavior problems, and the Child Depression Inventory was used to measure children's depression. Harter's Self-Perception Profile for Children was used to assess children's self-concept and feelings of self-adequacy. The abuse witnessed by children was assessed by both mothers' and children's reports of the types of abuse witnessed and the frequency with which the witnessing of the abuse occurred. Directly following questions about the type and frequency of physical and emotional abuse witnessed by the children, both mothers and children were asked whether the children experienced or engaged in a range of emotional and behavioral responses to witnessing abuse against their mothers. Data analysis identified four distinct clusters by whether or not children became aggressive against the assailant and sought help, became overprotective of their mothers, avoided or ignored the abuse, or had little response at all. Children who had little response at all to the domestic violence had witnessed less physical and emotional abuse than the other children; and children who became aggressive against the assailants were more likely to be living with them than children in other clusters. Virtually no differences were found across groups regarding the relationship between coping strategy and child well-being. This study thus provides preliminary evidence that children's immediate coping strategies may depend more on situational variables than individual factors. Study limitations and future research are discussed.
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Behavior under stress; Child development; Child emotional abuse and neglect; Domestic assault; Problem behavior; Stress management
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.