Predictors of DSM-IV diagnoses in children who witness domestic violence
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It has been estimated that 10 million teenagers are exposed to parental violence each year. Research has demonstrated that exposure to family violence, and specifically to marital conflict, contributes to the development of emotional and behavioral problems in children. Research has also demonstrated that there may be specific factors that can predict the development of certain probable DSM-IV disorders in children who witness domestic violence. This study analyzed age, gender, level of perceived threat, and level of coping efficacy as predictors of probable DSM-IV diagnoses in non-shelter and non-treatment seeking child witnesses to domestic violence.;This study was conducted at North Shore University Hospital (NSHS), Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In partnership with the local police precinct, a member of the NSHS response team would accompany a police officer within a week of an emergency call in which a domestic violence incident was reported. Participants completed a battery of measures given to them by a member of the response team. From the complete battery, there were three measures that were analyzed for this study: the Children's Perception of Interparental Conflict Scale, the Children's Symptom Inventory, and the Adolescent Symptom Inventory.;Participants were 38 children (16 girls and 22 boys) between the ages of 5 and 17 (mean age = 11.2, SD = 3.21), and their mother/father/guardian. The results of the study indicated that in a non-shelter population the four predictors analyzed did not significantly predict the presence or absence of probable DSM-IV diagnoses, as they have in previous studies using shelter populations. Additionally, 84% of participants were found to have at least one probable DSM-IV diagnosis. Younger children were found to have significantly higher levels of perceived threat than older children, and older children were found to have significantly lower levels of coping efficacy. Additionally, all of the hypotheses, except for #6, were not supported. The results of this study indicate that perhaps the trends found in children in shelter populations are different than those children from non-shelter populations. Accordingly, this study suggests that perhaps the characteristics of non-shelter populations should be treated as a separate, unique population with different relationships among the known predictors of how children adjust to marital violence. Implications for treatment of both shelter and non-shelter populations are also discussed.