Early developmental vulnerabilities following exposure to domestic violence and abuse: Findings from an Australian population cohort record linkage study

Tyson Whitten, M. J Green, Stacy Tzoumakis, Kristin R Laurens, Felicity Harris, Vaughan J Carr, Kimberlie Dean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Early life exposure to Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) is associated with poor psychosocial and cognitive development in childhood. However, most prior research uses mother-reported involvement in DVA as a proxy indicator of child exposure; studies using direct measures of child exposure to DVA are scarce, especially among representative population-based samples. We address this gap by using longitudinal, population-based data from an Australian record linkage study of children to examine the associations between early life exposure to DVA and early childhood developmental vulnerability. Exposure to DVA was measured using police contact records for children involved in a DVA incident either as a victim or witness. Developmental vulnerability at school entry was measured using the Australian Early Development Census, providing indices of five broad domains of function and person-centred classes of developmental risk (referred to as ‘mild generalized risk’, ‘misconduct risk’, and ‘pervasive risk’, each compared to a group showing ‘no risk’). Children exposed to DVA showed significantly greater odds of developmental vulnerability on all five domains and were more likely to be members of the three developmental risk classes. Girls who were victims of DVA (OR = 1.65) had significantly poorer developmental outcomes than boys who were victims (OR = 1.26) within the domain of communication skills and general knowledge (d = 0.29 [SE = 0.16], p = .04). No other sex differences were found. These preliminary findings hold important implications for policy regarding the early intervention and implementation of support services for young children exposed to DVA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume153
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

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