School-aged children who have witnessed wife abuse : a descriptive study of social, educational, and health issues

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Edwards, Wynne Margaret
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1987
Since the 1970s, wife abuse has been recognized and studied as a major problem in the Western World. Until this decade, little attention has been directed to the effects of these battering relationships on the children who witnessed them. This exploratory study described a group of children whose mothers had been previously physically abused by their intimate partners. Specifically, the school behavior and achievement, social behavior, and health concerns of the children were described. Twenty school-aged children between the ages of seven and thirteen years formed the sample. A combination of quantitative and qualitative research modes were used in the study. The children and their mothers were interviewed using semi-structured interviews designed for the study. A standardized behavior checklist, the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist, was also completed by each mother, which further described her child and allowed for comparisons between the children in this study and children in a normalized sample. Comparisons were made between gender groups within the sample. The data were also reviewed for indications of the modeling behavior described in Social Learning Theory. Children in the sample were reported to have witnessed the abuse of their mothers for an average of 4.7 years. Child abuse as well as wife abuse had occurred in a high percentage of the homes. There was a high incidence of intergenerational violence in the families of the children studied. Mother and child reports were highly consistent and comparisons based on gender showed no significant differences between boys and girls. Many school problems including a high percentage of school grade repeats were described. Aggressive behavior was reported for over half of the children. Few serious health problems were reported although many of the children complained of headaches and stomachaches. A large number of improvements occurred in the children after the abuse of the mother ended. In spite of the many problems described, most of the children in the study seemed to be functioning well and the mothers were optimistic about their futures. It was concluded that with the help of such measures as supportive parenting and short-term counselling, these children should continue to function well. However, approximately one quarter of the children had more severe problems and will probably require long-term help.
xiv, 125 leaves ; 28 cm
Wife Abuse , Dissertations, Academic