Abstract: The Impact of Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence on Children's Academic Functioning: A Systematic Review (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

The Impact of Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence on Children's Academic Functioning: A Systematic Review

Saturday, January 18, 2020
Liberty Ballroom N, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Jamie Cage, PhD, Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Julia Kobulsky, PhD, Assistant Professor, Temple University, Philadephia, PA
Sherise McKinney, MSSA, Research Assistant, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Megan Holmes, PhD, Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Kristen Berg, PhD, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Anna Bender, MSW, Doctoral Candidate, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Background and Purpose: Children’s academic functioning is a vital component of their healthy development. Empirical evidence suggests that exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) poses a threat to healthy development by contributing to poor academic functioning. However, empirical findings are not fully consistent on the strength and nature of IPV-academic functioning relationship, or the extent to which the association varies by different academic outcomes and co-occurring risk factors. Confidence in the empirical evidence of the relationship would be strengthened through a systematic review. Providing an understanding of the relationship across studies can guide research and practice. To that end, this review seeks to clarify the IPV-academic functioning relationship by distilling overall outcome trends of the literature, and critically assessing its strengths and limitations; including the extent to which the literature considered co-occurring risk factors.

Methods: Seven databases (CINAHL, ERIC, LexisNexis, Medline, PsychINFO, Social Science Citation Index, and Social Work Abstracts) were searched to identify articles published through December 2016. The following terms were included in the search: “(domestic OR interparental OR family OR marital OR interpersonal) AND (expos* OR witness*) AND (violen* OR conflict OR abus* OR batter*) AND (child* OR youth).” Studies were included in the review if they met three criteria: (1) more than 80% of the study’s sample were between the ages of 0 and 18; (2) outcomes of children exposed to IPV were compared to children who experienced other forms of violence, children who experienced poly-victimization, and/or children with no violence exposure; and (3) key study variables were measured using valid scales, or biological outcome data. After screening for inclusion and exclusion criteria, this review yielded 17 studies focusing on academic functioning.

Results: The 17 included studies were published between 1994 and 2016. The majority of the studies included samples of children from the United States (n = 15). Children in the studies ranged in age between 3 and 19 years. The majority of the literature (88.8 %, n = 15) examined three overarching aspects of academic functioning: 1) academic competence, 2) academic performance; and 3) academic failure. Over two-thirds (70.1 %, n = 12) of the studies found a significant, negative, association between IPV exposure and academic functioning; with IPV exposure negatively affecting children’s academic performance and competency (i.e., math and reading), and resulting in academic failure (i.e., truancy and grade repetition). Findings from several studies indicate that the combined experience of IPV exposure and maltreatment negatively effects children’s academic functioning. Results highlight a lack of theoretical applications to examine the mechanisms underlying the association between IPV exposure and academic functioning.

Conclusions: This review summarizes research examining the effects of IPV exposure on children’s academic functioning. Results provide evidence of IPV exposure’s deleterious effect on children’s academic functioning. Highlighting the need for early detection of IPV exposed children, and the development and implementation of effective evidence-based interventions to support academic functioning. To better inform the development of interventions, future research should test theoretical models to improve understanding of the mechanisms underlying the IPV-academic functioning relationship.