Using the first four waves of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this article examined the effects of mothers who experienced domestic violence at Year 1 on the externalizing and internalizing behavior problems of children at Year 5 and investigated whether maternal mental health and parenting at Year 3 mediated those effects. Findings from structural equation modeling showed partial support for the hypothesized mediation effects. Consistent with the spillover hypothesis, domestic violence at Year 1 had a direct effect on maternal mental health at Year 3, which had direct effects on children's externalizing behavior problems at Year 5. Likewise, domestic violence at Year 1 had direct effects on parenting behavior and spanking at Year 3, and both parenting behavior and spanking then had direct effects on children's externalizing and internalizing behavior problems at Year 5. Domestic violence at Year 1 had direct effects on children's externalizing and internalizing behavior problems at Year 5. These results suggest that there are long-term effects of domestic violence on the behavior problems of preschool-aged children and that early interventions are needed to prevent later problems among children in families experiencing domestic violence.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Domestic violence
- Externalizing behavior problems
- Internalizing behavior problems