To examine the association between physical domestic violence victimization (both recent and more than a year in past measured by self-report) and self-reported disciplinary practices among female parents/caregivers in a national sample of families referred to child welfare.
Cross-sectional survey of more than 3,000 female caregivers in the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being (NSCAW) study, a nationally representative sample of children and their families referred to child welfare agencies for investigation of abuse and neglect. Women reported physical domestic violence victimization and their disciplinary practices for their child on different versions of the Conflict Tactics Scales.
Four hundred and forty-three women reported prior year domestic violence, 1,161 reported domestic violence but not in the past 12 months, and 2,025 reported no domestic violence exposure. Any prior domestic violence exposure was associated with higher rates of self-reported psychological aggression, physical aggression and neglectful disciplinary behaviors as compared to those with no domestic violence victimization in bivariate comparisons. After controlling for child behavior, demographic factors, and maternal characteristics, those with remote and recent domestic violence victimization employed more self-reported psychological aggression, while only caregivers with recent DV reported more physical aggression or neglectful behaviors.
In a national child welfare sample, self-reported aggressive and neglectful parenting behaviors were common. In this sample, domestic violence victimization is associated with more self-reported aggressive and neglectful disciplinary behaviors among female caregivers. The mechanism for these associations is not clear.
Rates of aggressive and neglectful disciplinary practices are especially high among female parents/caregivers exposed to domestic violence. Child welfare agencies should plan routine and structured assessments for domestic violence among parents/caregivers and implement parenting interventions to reduce harmful disciplinary practices for those families identified.