University of Twente Student Theses


Consequences of Child Maltreatment and Witnessing Domestic Violence and the role of Attachment in Young Children

Yakob, T. (2018) Consequences of Child Maltreatment and Witnessing Domestic Violence and the role of Attachment in Young Children.

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Abstract:Background: Child maltreatment and witnessing domestic violence (WDV) can have far-reaching consequences for the child. As a consequence of the violence, the child might experience post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTS symptoms) such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety, sexual concerns, dissociation and anger. First, the present study examined the prevalence of trauma symptoms in a sample of families in The Netherlands. Then differences in age, gender, education and income for child maltreatment, WDV, attachment, and trauma symptoms were examined. It also examined the relationship between child maltreatment and WDV and severity of trauma symptoms and whether attachment between parent and child mediates the relationship between both child maltreatment and WDV and PTS symptoms. Lastly, the study examined whether age and gender differences exist within these relationships. Method: A group of parents (N = 267), derived from a large-scale study with participants who were suspected of child maltreatment or WDV, completed questionnaires about their children (N = 321). The questionnaires were about child maltreatment between parent and child, domestic violence between parent and partner, attachment between parent and child and PTS symptoms of the child. Results: As expected, within this sample the amount of post-traumatic stress (29%) was higher compared to the general population (7.4% PTSD in the Dutch population, for children this number is lower, de Vries & Olff, 2009). Overall attachment between parent and child was found to be low; in 78.3% of the score below 4.5. According to Kerns et al. (1996) this reflects an insecure attachment style. Just a few group differences were found. The youngest group of children had a higher level of attachment, the group of 9-12 years old showed more PTS symptoms than the group of 5-8 years old and sexual concerns were found more in girls and in older children. No direct and indirect effects of attachment on the relationship of child maltreatment and WDV with post-traumatic stress has been found. Attachment significantly predicted post-traumatic stress: the lower the attachment, the more post-traumatic stress. Age and gender had no effects on these relationships. Conclusion: It can be concluded that this study confirms previous findings that child maltreatment or WDV may lead to serious PTS symptoms in children. The study also confirms that children who experience violence at home have a higher risk on developing an insecure attachment with their parents. Future longitudinal research on the consequences of child maltreatment is needed in order to capture developmental changes as they emerge in these children who experience child maltreatment and/or WDV.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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