The Effects of Father Visitation on Preschool Aged Witnesses of Domestic Violence

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Fifty preschool children with varying amounts of visitation with their previously violent fathers were studied to determine if the amount of father visitation was related to their behavioral functioning. The possible association of the severity of violence witnessed and the quality of the mother-child relationship on child behaviors was also assessed. There was a significant negative relationship between internalizing and externalizing behaviors, as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist, and frequency of father visitation. Children who saw their fathers less frequently evidenced higher internalizing and externalizing scores. More severe levels of violence perpetrated by the father significantly predicted increased externalizing behavior scores but not internalizing scores. Severity of violence was more predictive of externalizing behaviors than frequency of father visitation.

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Journal of Interpersonal Violence, v. 18, issue 10, p. 1149-1166