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The Effects of Child Abuse and Exposure to Domestic Violence on Adolescent Internalizing and Externalizing Behavior Problems

by C A Moylan, T I Herrenkohl, C Sousa, E A Tajima, R C Herrenkohl, M J Russo
Journal of Family Violence

Abstract

This study examines the effects of child abuse and domestic violence exposure in childhood on adolescent internalizing and externalizing behaviors. Data for this analysis are from the Lehigh Longitudinal Study, a prospective study of 457 youth addressing outcomes of family violence and resilience in individuals and families. Results show that child abuse, domestic violence, and both in combination (i.e., dual exposure) increase a child's risk for internalizing and externalizing outcomes in adolescence. When accounting for risk factors associated with additional stressors in the family and surrounding environment, only those children with dual exposure had an elevated risk of the tested outcomes compared to non-exposed youth. However, while there were some observable differences in the prediction of outcomes for children with dual exposure compared to those with single exposure (i.e., abuse only or exposure to domestic violence only), these difference were not statistically significant. Analyses showed that the effects of exposure for boys and girls are statistically comparable.

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