The children witness conflicts
between their parents, which may involve physical violence like pushing,
throwing things, slapping with the intention of hurting or may involve using
abusive language. As a consequence of interparental conflicts, children are
most often maltreated and are abused.
Children exposed to such interparental violence experience emotional, behavioral and cognitive
problems, which may have long-term effects thus affecting the quality of their
violence has become a worldwide problem with statistics showing nearly 16% of
all children in United States alone having witnessed partner assault sometimes
in their childhood.
The effectiveness of the newly
developed program in minimizing the post-traumatic stress and behavioral
problems in children is being evaluated in a randomized control study involving
compare the impact of the secondary prevention intervention program, which is
trauma focused, with that of a control program, named 'Jij hoort erbij' ('You belong'), which is
non-specific. They believe that such comparative analyses will help in
optimizing the care provided for children exposed to interparental violence.
The participants include the
affected children, aged between 6 and 12, and their care giving parents who
have also been exposed to interparental violence in childhood.
program consists of group sessions for children and parallel sessions for
parents. Previous studies have reported an increased reduction in the
behavioral problems in children participating in programs with parallel parent
guided program helps the children differentiate and express emotions and helps
them in coping with the problems and feelings in a positive manner.
While the parent sessions guide the parents to
become more supportive of their children and help them understand the emotions
of the child who has experienced the interparental violence. At the end of the
program the parents and children are encouraged to discuss about the sessions.
The control program
has a similar structure but is not trauma focused and the sessions involve more
of non-specific factors like offering positive attention, positive
expectations, recreation, distraction, warmth and empathy of the therapist, and
social support among group participants.
The program is
evaluated by assessing the primary outcomes of exposure to interparental
violence like post-traumatic symptoms, internalizing behavior and externalizing
behavior in children. Internalizing behavior involves harming oneself like
depression, excess intake of food, while externalizing behavior involves
physical aggression, bullying others, etc. Other moderating factors like parent-child
interaction, parenting stress, emotional security of the children are also
assessed. The assessments are based on many validated questionnaires or through
certain gaming activities.
The study is still
in progress and the researchers have planned to publish the results by the end
of 2013. A previous study has reported that children participating in the
secondary prevention intervention program, 'En nu ik!' show
reduced post-traumatic symptoms, internalizing and externalizing behavior.
the experts have opined that results of this study will provide further insight
into the inclusion of specific features in secondary prevention intervention
programs, making them more efficient.
Reference: The effectiveness of a trauma-focused
psycho-educational secondary prevention program for children exposed to
interparental violence: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial;
Mathilde et al; Trials 2012.