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Journal Article


Carlson BE. J. Interpers. Violence 1991; 6(4): 526-534.


(Copyright © 1991, SAGE Publishing)






VioLit summary:

The goal of this study by Carlson was to learn whether witnessing and experiencing family violence had an additive effect exhibited in adolescents overall well-being, endorsement of violence, violent behavior, substance abuse, and running away as compared to youths who have only witnessed or experienced violence, but not both.

This was a quasi-experimental, cross-sectional study of 111 adolescents selected from four residential treatment centers (53%) and one runaway shelter (47%). All subjects agreed to face-to-face interview which consisted of both closed and open-ended questions. The group demographics were as follows: 49.5% were male, 50.5% female; age range was 13-18 years with 15.41 years as the average age; 76% were white, 15% black, 9% other; most were low-income; less than half grew up with both biological parents. The definition of physical abuse included anyone who had been "really hurt" more than once when they were punished, or if a report had ever been filed on behalf of a youth to the Child Abuse Hotline. Subjects were classified as having witnessed domestic violence if they had ever seen either their mother or father (or surrogate parent) ever slapped, hit, pushed, or punched the other parent. The subjects were divided into four groups: (1) Neither witnessed nor experienced abuse (n=25), (2) Witnessed abuse only (n=12), (3) Experienced abuse only (n=6), (4) Both witnessed and experienced abuse (n=50). The dependent variables included a broad range of indicators of problematic states and behaviors related to well-being, as well as violent attitudes and actions, and drug use and abuse. Four composite measures were created for each of these areas. The alpha coefficients showing internal consistency were .56, .56, .64, and .76, respectively. The independent variables were witnessing and/or experiencing domestic violence. A 2x2 ANOVA was performed on the data. To check for sex differences, t-tests were performed. As a result, the effects of gender had to be controlled for.

The gender differences found were that males had significantly higher well-being (p=.001) and were more likely to approve of violence (p=.041), and females ran away more frequently (p=.022). After controlling for gender, only one significant relationship was found: well-being was impacted the most by both witnessing and experiencing violence. Neither witnessing or experiencing violence, nor both events together had any significant effect on the adolescent's approval of violence or violent behavior, substance abuse, or running away from home. The author indicated that results were surprising and that it is possible that the onset, duration, and severity of the witnessed or experienced violence affects the adolescent's reaction. The author also suggested it is plausible that some adolescents consciously decide to avoid the violence they grew up with, while others repeat what they have learned. The nature of this study would have hidden this information. One other possibility is that the impact of other types of abuse, sexual and neglect, may confound the results. (CSPV Abstract - Copyright © 1992-2007 by the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, Institute of Behavioral Science, Regents of the University of Colorado)

KW - Domestic Violence Effects
KW - Domestic Violence Victim
KW - Witnessing Spouse Abuse
KW - Witnessing Violence Effects
KW - Juvenile Violence
KW - Juvenile Offender
KW - Juvenile Victim
KW - Juvenile Witness
KW - Juvenile Substance Use
KW - Juvenile Runaway
KW - Juvenile Adjustment
KW - Juvenile Well-Being
KW - Juvenile Perceptions
KW - Juvenile Attitudes
KW - Attitudes Toward Violence
KW - Violence Perceptions
KW - Violence Causes
KW - Runaway Causes
KW - Psychological Victimization Effects
KW - Child Abuse Effects
KW - Child Abuse Victim
KW - Child Physical Abuse Victim
KW - Child Physical Abuse Effects
KW - Child Abuse-Violence Link
KW - Child Abuse-Substance Use Link
KW - Substance Use Causes
KW - Children of Battered Women
KW - Partner Violence
KW - Violence Against Women
KW - Spouse Abuse Effects


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