This study examined the long-term effects of childhood exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) in the home as measured by violence and drug use in adolescence, as well as gender differences in these behaviors.
Although many prior studies have found that youth exposed to IPV as children are at increased risk for subsequent problem behaviors, the current study found that after controlling for a range of other child and family experiences, IPV exposure did not significantly predict the likelihood of violence or the number of violent acts reported by adolescents; however, exposure to IPV predicted an increased likelihood of drug use among girls but not boys, and IPV exposure predicted an increased frequency of drug use among girls but not boys in multivariate models that controlled for prior drug use and other individual, family, and neighborhood control variables. The results, however, indicate significant gender differences in the strength of the relationship between IPV exposure and the frequency of drug use; no gender differences were found in the effects of IPV on violence among males and females. Boys who were physically abused were more likely than girls who were physically abused to use drugs frequently. Peer influences were also more influential for boys. Longitudinal data were obtained from 1,315 adolescents and their primary caregivers, who were participating in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods. The sample was 51 percent female and ethnically diverse (45 percent Hispanic, 37 percent African-American, and 14 percent Caucasian). Two waves of data were assessed in examining the effects of exposure to IPV. Data were reported by caregivers when their children were ages 12 and 15. Any violence or drug abuse was reported by adolescents 3 years later. Multivariate statistical models were used to control for a range of child, parent, family, and neighborhood risk factors. 4 tables and 37 references