Children’s exposure to parental intimate partner violence (IPV) is recognized as an adverse childhood experience that impacts children’s healthy development. A substantial body of literature demonstrates that exposure to parental IPV can result in short-term and long-term adverse outcomes in the following areas: mental health, behavior, cognition, physical health, and academic achievement. Despite these findings regarding outcomes, there are variations in the prevalence and consequences of children’s exposure to parental IPV, which may be the result of measurement issues. The Child Exposure to Domestic Violence (CEDV) scale was developed to address such concerns. The purpose of this study was to synthesize and summarize the psychometric properties of CEDV and make recommendations for practitioners.
A systematic review was conducted across ten databases (Academic Search Complete, CINAHL Complete, Criminal Justice Abstracts with Full Text, ERIC, Family Studies Abstracts, MEDLINE, Psych ARTICLES, Psychology, Behavior Sciences Collection, PsycINFO, and Social Work Abstracts). The keyword search included the terms “CEDV scale”, “child exposure to domestic violence”, “Child exposure to domestic violence scale”, “CEDV”, AND “Scale” and “CEDV” OR “child exposure to domestic violence” AND “scale”. Studies were included if they were empirical, quantitative, used the CEDV scale with children under 18, and were conducted from 2008 to the present. Covidence systematic review software was used to facilitate the review. Both authors reviewed 181 studies for inclusion. After we conducted the title and abstract review 36 qualified for full-text review and of these 13 met the inclusion criteria.
The 13 studies included 2,546 children (median sample size 97) with a mean age of 12.70 (SD= 3.30). The plurality of the studies were conducted in the U.S. (38.5%). Among the studies that reported racial demographics, 55.3% were children of color. Seven of the studies were conducted in other countries, including Sweden, South Africa, Iran, Pakistan, and Iraqi Kurdistan.
The majority of the studies reported good internal consistency with alphas for the total scale ranging from .79-.97. Regarding criterion validity, the CEDV scale significantly predicted depressive symptoms and was positively correlated with anxiety symptoms. Children exposed to parental IPV scored higher in the areas of maladjustment, social stress, and self-esteem. Two studies established convergent validity by having participants complete the CEDV with the “Things I’ve Seen and Heard” questionnaire and a physical aggression questionnaire, respectively; the CEDV was positively correlated with each of the measures. Few studies examined factor validity among the items; therefore, little is known about the factor structure of the items within various samples.
Conclusion and Implication:
Despite the limited scope of this synthesis, it still provides some evidence that the CEDV scale is both reliable and valid among diverse populations of children. The CEDV scale may be a helpful tool for practitioners working with children exposed to parental IPV and their families. Social work practitioners should consider utilizing the CEDV scale to assess the nature of the exposure and co-occurring risk factors as well as to help guide the selection of interventions.