The relationship between family stress (FS) and intimate partner violence (IPV) is well established, but whether the presence of a difficult child moderates the relationship between FS and later IPV was unclear. To fill this important gap in the literature, data from the Longitudinal Studies of Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) database were used to determine whether child difficulty (CD) and family stress at child age 6 interact in the prediction of IPV at child age 8. In a parallel analysis to replicate findings, the interaction between child difficulty and family stress at child age 12 was assessed in the prediction of IPV at child age 14. Hypotheses were tested using multiple linear regression at the p<0.05 threshold for statistical significance. Analyses controlled for child gender at child age 6 and for child gender, caregiver depression, substance abuse in the household and household SES at child age 12. The moderator hypothesis was validated in the research when predicting from child difficulty and family stress at child age 6 to IPV at child age 8 and also statistically significant at child age 12 to IPV at child age 14. These findings have important implications in assisting mental health providers with developing novel interventions, which may help reduce IPV. Further examination of the impact difficult behavior of a child may contribute to family stress may enhance our ability to reduce partner engagement in violence and its indirect psychosocial sequelae.
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