University of Illinois Study Examines How Exposure to Violence Impact Mothers’ Behavior Toward Their Children

Researchers at the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois have found that women who are exposed to violence in their environments are more likely than other women to engage in physically aggressive parenting practices. This, in turn, leads their children to be more aggressive and, as a result, the children are more likely to experience behavioral problems.

The researchers interviewed more than 2,200 mothers of newborns in 20 large cities across the United States. The mothers where interviewed two additional times over a five-year period. The results showed that mothers who had witnessed violence in their communities were more likely to shout at, spank, swear at, or strike their children. More than three quarters of women who were exposed to moderate to high levels of violence in their communities engaged in aggressive parenting.

The authors wrote that neighborhood violence could produce excessive levels of stress among mothers that cause them to lash out at their children. Or they conjectured that mothers and their children may reflect community standards that condone violence as an acceptable mean of responding to frustration or to solve problems.

“One of the unexplained factors may be that children are being exposed to the same acts of violence as their mothers,” said Mary Keegan Eamon, a co-author of the study.

The research was published in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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