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Domestic Violence, Couple Interaction and Children's Health in Latin America

NCJ Number
Journal of Family Violence Volume: 23 Issue: 3 Dated: April 2008 Pages: 183-193
Tim B. Heaton; Renata Forste
Date Published
April 2008
11 pages
This study examined the associations between several measures of parents' interaction with one another and their children's health.
The study found that more positive couple interaction and shared decisionmaking was associated with better health for their children. In averaging effects over the five countries involved in this study, findings show that children in homes where mothers experienced spousal violence scored nearly one-third of a standard deviation lower on height for age than children in homes with no spousal violence. The greatest negative influence on child health occurred when the male partner's controlling behavior resulted in physical violence. In addition, the findings indicated that the mother's input on household decisions was associated with child mortality rates approximately one-third lower compared to households in which husbands or other household members made decisions. Couple discussions about family planning were associated with better nutritional status and lower child mortality. Thus, not only does female autonomy benefit child well-being, as supported by previous research, but the authors also conclude that joint decisionmaking in the household has positive benefits on child health. Analyses were based on demographic and health surveys in five Latin-American countries (Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Haiti, and Nicaragua), most of which were conducted in 2000. Mortality and nutritional status were used as measures of child health. 4 tables and 53 references