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A Study of the Prevalence and Effects of Children\'s Exposure to Violence and the Importance of Early Intervention

A Study of the Prevalence and Effects of Children\'s Exposure to Violence and the Importance of Early Intervention


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  • Violence is everywhere, especially in the media, but many of us can avoid such exposureMillions of children, however, are unavoidably exposed to violence every day and are adversely affected by itTypes of exposure: domestic, family, community, etc.Includes personal experiences (victimization) and observing violenceExposure to violence impacts children and development of behavioral/conduct issuesChildren exposed to violence (esp. large degrees of parental violence) are more likely to become violent as adults – towards spouses and children, which ultimately perpetuates the cycleEarly Intervention and prevention may help break the cycle
  • Purpose of literature review:Examine emotional, psychological, and developmental effects of being exposed to violenceHow effects can be addressed/prevented through early identification and interventionResearch Topic:Developed out of interest in working with children & familiesBased on acquired knowledge about adverse effects on children exposed to violence, which sparked a curiosity about types of intervention and prevention programs currently available and their effectivenessPrimary Goal of Project:-Identify programs and intervention strategies that have proven to be beneficial-Guide future research to improve prevention and intervention programs & increase efforts aimed at doing so
  • Research reveals that more than 10 million children witness physical abuse between parents-2/3 witness chronic abuse-1 million children are victims of abuse or neglect3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year, but this is likely an underestimate because data:Was collected over 20 years agoDid not include divorced parentsDid not include children under 3 years of age – population believed to be most at risk for being exposed to violence
  • Younger children are believed to be more likely to be exposed to violence -Creates more widely varying responsesMeta-analysis conducted by Wolfe et al. found that children who both witness and are victims of domestic violence resulted in a larger effect sizeForty of the 41 effects examined in the meta-analysis indicated that exposure to violence had a negative effect on children, especially preschool-aged children
  • A significant amount of studies are in agreement that exposure of children to violence results in adverse emotional, psychological, behavioral, and developmental effects, such as:-depression, anxiety, and antisocial behaviors-increased anger, aggression, and other behavioral problems-delays in developmental milestones, such as developing secure attachments, self-regulation, social and peer relationship skills, and social competency
  • Studies have found that exposure to violence between parents affects the child’s ability to adjust in light of difficult situationsSome 100 published studies reported associations between exposure to violence and childhood or later adulthood problemsA number of meta-analyses were cited for demonstrating behavioral and emotional problems in children who had been exposed to violenceOsofsky found that children’s reactions to trauma (such as witnessing violence) are impacted by:How close (or how closely involved) they were to the violenceHow well they knew the victim and/or perpetratorTheir temperament and developmental stageThe severity and frequency of the violenceThe support available to them – which can help moderate the effectsThe more children are exposed to violence (especially severe violence), the more likely they are to become abusive or violent themselves-Through observation (where no punishment is presented for the behavior), children learn that violent behavior is acceptable and allowed, especially as a means of conflict resolution and a way to control other people.-Exposure to violence on a regular basis supports a distorted belief that violence is a natural part of family relationshipsThere are, however, risk factors and protective factors that also play a role in the impact of exposure to violence on children
  • Family violence often occurs in conjunction with risk factors, such as:-mental health problems-substance abuse-criminal behavior-divorce-family dysfunction-povertyStudies have revealed that domestic violence is a risk factor of child maltreatment & maltreatment impacts the development of emotional and behavioral disorders in childrenWitnessing and being victimized by domestic violence increases emotional behavioral problems, but factors such as age, sex, and type of outcome were not found to be significant moderators (Wolfe et al., 2003)
  • Protective factors (such as environmental circumstances and individual differences and vulnerabilities) helped children remain resilient against the effects of being exposed to violence.While resilience can help shield some children from the adverse effects of being exposed to violence, many other children are left unshielded and require more assistance in order to overcome those effects-such assistance can be provided in the form of intervention programs
  • Nearly every research article on the topic of children who are exposed to violence is in agreement that intervention is of the utmost importance as a means of both preventing exposure and helping those who have been exposed.In the mid-1980s, the most common intervention approach for children who had been exposed to violence was removal from the violent environment.-While this approach is still used in extreme cases, there has been continual concern that this approach may unintentionally contribute to difficult adjustment for these children.
  • A number of articles examine characteristics of intervention programs that have shown to be successful-Jaffe et al. found that teaching children problem-solving skills helps children learn to identify problem situations and come up with alternative responses in which they consider the consequences of their behavior-Early intervention programs offered in group settings and focusing on the needs of children by providing support have aided in the reduction of problem behaviors and the development of coping skills-Intervention programs that focus on children’s symptoms and on educating and supporting parents have been found to be the most successful-Other literature has intervention that focus on improving parent-child connections, caregiver knowledge, and caregiver skill have been beneficial, but merely for families where only minor maltreatment was present-Other successful intervention and treatment programs have focused on helping parents to establish safety, offer empathic learning to their children, and facilitate the recovery of their child – all things that are often missing in the lives of children who experience the adverse effects of being exposed to violence.
  • Webster-Stratton and Taylor identified programs that promote social competence and provide support to children who have been exposed to violence through partnership between families, teachers, schools, and counselors.Examples of such programs include:Parent-focused interventions-family therapy-parent training programsChild-focused interventions-focused on problem-solving as well as social, coping, and academic skills through trainingClassroom-focused interventions-inclusive, early intervention school programs that increase thinking and reasoning abilitiesA combination of these programs
  • Black and Trocmé emphasize the importance of providing resources to diverse populations, especially fathers because they are often the perpetrators of domestic violence and are most often ignored in regard to intervention services.Engaging and encouraging community involvement to help protect children from being exposed to violence is important for intervention programs because it provides children with another layer of support.Current intervention programs range from working with the children who are exposed to violence, families of those children exposed to violence, and even the perpetrators of child violence and intervention with these diverse populations have shown success. There is, however, always room for improvement.
  • The prevailing arguments presented throughout the existing literature includes:That exposure to violence (whether it be observation or victimization) is not an uncommon occurrence, but rather is a worldwide occurrence.Exposure to violence has very real and adverse (and often times traumatizing) emotional, psychological, and developmental effects.Much of the literature acknowledges that there are other adverse risk factors that influence a child’s psychological and behavioral problems, but those factors (such as poverty, maltreatment, and domestic violence) often only serve to aggravate the effects of exposure to violence.There is overall agreement that younger children are more likely to be exposed to violence, but the effects can be just as harmful at later ages.The literature touched on many of the important areas of focus for intervention programs while others provided specific examples of programs that are already in use with at-risk children
  • There are a number of key questions to be asked, examined, and studied through future research:How does exposure to violence affect children over their lifetimes and across generations?Which intervention programs are effective for which populations and which age groups?-both of these will help in the development of intervention programsThere is a need for large-scale longitudinal studies as it would serve to further contribute to the understanding of the impact of exposure to violence on children throughout their lives.Would also help in examining the effectiveness of different intervention programs (including the effects of early intervention) over an exposed child’s life-would guide the construction and development of more appropriate and beneficial intervention and prevention programs to aid in both addressing and preventing the effects of exposure of children to violence.
  • Transcript

    • 1. A Study of the Prevalence and Effects of Children’s Exposure to Violence and the Importance of Early Intervention
      Holly Winzenburg
      June 22, 2011
    • 2. Children and Violence
      Children are exposed to many types of violence
      Exposure affects children adversely
      Development of behavioral and conduct issues
      Increases risk of becoming violent as adults (Gerrig, Hock, & Zimbardo, 2009)
      Increases risk of exposing own children, perpetuating the cycle
      Early Intervention and Prevention may break the cycle
    • 3. Children and Violence Literature Review
      Purpose:
      How are children affected by exposure to violence?
      How can these effects be addressed or prevented through early identification and intervention?
      Why the topic of Children and Violence?
      Primary Goal:
      Identify beneficial programs & intervention strategies
      Guide future research
      Increase efforts to improve programs
    • 4. Prevalence of Exposure
      In U.S., 10+ million children witness abuse between parents (Berkowitz, 2003)
      Two-thirds witness chronic abuse
      One million children are victims
      3.3 million children witness domestic violence each year (Osofsky, 2003)
      Likely an underestimate
    • 5. Prevalence of Exposure
      Younger children more likely to be exposed (Gewirtz & Edleson, 2007)
      Meta-analysis findings:
      Witness & victimization resulted in larger effect size
      Exposure to violence has negative effect on children
      (Wolfe, Crooks, Lee, McIntyre-Smith, & Jaffe, 2003)
    • 6. Effects of Exposure
      Studies agree that exposure to violence results in adverse emotional, psychological, behavioral, and developmental effects, such as:
      Depression, anxiety, and antisocial behaviors
      Increased anger and aggression
      Delays in developmental milestones
      (Berkowitz, 2003)
      (Gewirtz & Edleson, 2007)
      (Jaffe, Wilson, & Wolfe, 1986)
    • 7. Effects of Exposure
      Problems adjusting in light of difficult situations (Jaffe et al., 1986)
      Other childhood or later adulthood behavioral and emotional problems (Gewirtz & Edleson, 2007)
      Reactions to trauma impacted by a number of factors (Osofsky, 2003)
      The more they are exposed, the more likely it is they will become violent
      Chronic exposure supports distorted beliefs about violence in relationships
    • 8. Risk and Protective Factors
      Risk Factors:
      Mental health problems Substance abuse
      Criminal behavior Divorce
      Family dysfunction Poverty
      (Osofsky, 2003)
      Domestic violence is a risk factor for child maltreatment (Chen & Scannapieco, 2006)
      Maltreatment impacts development of emotional and behavioral disorders (E/BDs) (Conroy & Brown, 2004)
    • 9. Risk and Protective Factors
      Protective Factors:
      Environmental circumstances
      Individual differences and vulnerabilities
      (Berkowitz, 2003)
      Protective factors promote resilience
      Shields children from the adverse effects of exposure to violence
      For less resilient individuals, assistance in the form of intervention programs may be needed
    • 10. Intervention Programs and Strategies
      Intervention is most important for:
      Preventing exposure of children to violence & its effects
      Helping those who have been exposed
      Most common intervention approach in mid-1980s was removal of the child
      May unintentionally contribute to maladjustment
      (Jaffe et al., 1986)
    • 11. Intervention Programs and Strategies
      Intervention Program characteristics:
      Teaches children problem-solving skills
      Involves group intervention focused on needs of the children
      Focuses on:
      Child’s symptoms
      Education and support for parents
      Improving parent-child connection, caregiver knowledge, and caregiver skill
      Establishing safety and offering empathic listening
      (Jaffe et al., 1986; Graham-Berman & Hughes, 2003; Chen & Scannapieco, 2006; Ziegler & Weidner, 2006)
    • 12. Intervention Programsand Strategies
      Programs should:
      Promote social competence
      Provide support through partnership between families, teachers, schools, and counselors
      Examples of such programs:
      Parent-focused interventions
      Child-focused interventions
      Classroom-focused interventions
      Combination of these programs
      (Webster-Stratton & Taylor, 2001)
    • 13. Intervention Programsand Strategies
      Programs may also:
      Provide resources to diverse populations
      Engage and encourage the community to help
      (Black & Trocmé, 2005)
      Programs that currently exist work with a wide range of populations and have shown successes, but there is always room for improvement
    • 14. Summary of Literature Review
      Prevailing Arguments:
      Exposure of children to violence is not uncommon
      Exposure to violence has emotional, psychological, and developmental effects
      Risk factors serve to aggravate the adverse effects of exposure to violence
      Younger children are more likely to be exposed to violence
      The literature touched on important areas of focus for intervention programs while others provided specific examples of such programs
    • 15. Recommendations
      Key questions to be asked and areas to be examined and studied through future research:
      Effects of exposure over lifetimes and across generations
      Which intervention programs are effective for which populations and which age groups
      There is also need for large-scale longitudinal studies
      Can help guide construction and development of appropriate and beneficial intervention programs
    • 16. References
      Berkowitz, S. J. (2003). Children Exposed to Community Violence: The Rationale for Early Intervention. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(4), 293-302. doi: 10.1023/B:CCFP.0000006295.54479.3d
      Black, T. L. & Trocmé, N. (2005). Protecting Children from Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention. Canadian Psychology, 46(3), 170-171. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/220791120?accountid=34899
      Conroy, M. A. & Brown, W. H. (2004). Early Identification, Prevention, and Early Intervention with Young Children At Risk for Emotional or Behavioral Disorders: Issues, Trends, and a Call for Action. Behavioral Disorders, 29(3), 223-236. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/219675692?accountid=34899
      Gerrig, R. J.; Hock, R. R.; & Zimbardo, P. G. (2009). An Overview of Psychology: Its Past & Present, Your Future. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
      Gewirtz, A. H. & Edleson, J. L. (2007). Young Children's Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence: Towards a Developmental Risk and Resilience Framework for Research and Intervention. Journal of Family Violence, 22(3), 151-163. doi: 10.1007/s10896-007-9065-3
      Graham-Bermann, S. A. & Hughes, H. M. (2003). Intervention for Children Exposed to Interparental Violence (IPV): Assessment of Needs and Research Priorities. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(3), 189-204. doi: 10.1023/A:1024962400234
      Jaffe, P., Wilson, S., & Wolfe, D. A. (1986). Promoting changes in attitudes and understanding of conflict resolution among child witnesses of family violence. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 18(4), 356-366. doi: 10.1037/h0079969
    • 17. References Cont’d
      Kitzmann, K. M., Gaylord, N. K., Holt, A. R., & Kenny, E. D. (2003). Child Witnesses to Domestic Violence: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(2), 339-352. doi: 10.1037/0022-006X.71.2.339
      Osofsky, J. D. (2003). Prevalence of Children's Exposure to Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment: Implications for Prevention and Intervention. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(3), 161-70. doi: 10.1023/A:1024958332093
      Prinz, R. J. & Feerick, M. M. (2003). Next Steps in Research on Children Exposed to Domestic Violence. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(3), 215-9. doi: 10.1023/A:1024966501143
      Szu-Yu, C. & Scannapieco, M. (2006). Early Childhood Maltreatment: Substantiation related to Family Risk and Intervention Factors. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 23(3), 343-355. doi: 10.1007/s10560-006-0054-9
      Webster-Stratton, C. & Taylor, T. (2001). Nipping Early Risk Factors in the Bud: Preventing Substance Abuse, Delinquency, and Violence in Adolescence Through Interventions Targeted at Young Children (0-8 Years). Prevention Science, 2(3), 165-92. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/222826887?accountid=34899
      Wolfe, D. A., Crooks, C. V., Lee, V., McIntyre-Smith, A., & Jaffe, P. G. (2003). The Effects of Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence: A Meta-Analysis and Critique. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 6(3), 171-87. doi: 10.1023/A:1024910416164
      Ziegler, R. G. & Weidner, D. A. (2006). Assessment and Intervention with Parents to Stabilize Children Who Have Witnessed Violence. Journal of Family Violence, 21(3), 209-219. doi: 10.1007/s10896-006-9016-4