The effectiveness of a psycho-educational program for child witnesses and victims of domestic violence (WC0000-000)


Starting date: 01/10/2008

Interparental violence is a considerable worldwide problem (Alink, van IJzendoorn, Bakermans-Kranenburg, Pannebakker, Vogels, & Euser, 2011; Hamby, Finkelhor, Turner, & Ormrod, 2011). Exposure to interparental violence is described as a form of emotional child abuse by the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC), because parents expose their children to harmful experiences (Graham-Bermann, 2002). Children exposed to interparental violence are at a heightened risk for developing emotional and behavioral problems and posttraumatic stress symptoms (Kitzmann et al., 2003).

An important question regards the conditions for children to recover from the impact of experiencing interparental violence, and the extent to which the optimal conditions and supports depend on characteristics of children and their context (Graham-Bermann, Gruber, Howell, & Girz, 2009). Easily accessible, cost-effective and short-term interventions may be necessary to prevent or limit negative consequences of exposure to traumatic experiences such as interparental violence (Weisz, Sandler, Durlak, & Anton, 2005). Several interventions for children exposed to interparental violence and their parents have been developed, varying in trauma-focus, intervention goal, target group and context (Rizo, Macy, Ermentrout, & Johns, 2011). Well-designed studies of some of these interventions have shown promising results; children improved more in the intervention condition than in the control condition. However, because of the different approaches used in each intervention, it remains unclear which factors in intervention contribute to an improvement in adjustment of participating children.