Partner abuse or violence, parenting and neighborhood influences on children's behavioral problems

Patricia O'Campo, Margaret O. Caughy, Saundra M. Nettles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the relationship between neighborhood characteristics, parenting behaviors, experiences of intimate partner abuse or violence (IPV) and children's behavioral problems in a socioeconomically diverse sample of 383 families residing in an urban environment. Data were collected in the Fall/Winter of 2002. The census block group of residence was used as our measure of neighborhood. Census block groups typically contain 1500 residents on average. IPV was measured using a modified version of the HITS (physically Hurt, Insult, Threaten, and Screamed at) scale, a short four item tool assessing emotional and physical violence to which we added an item capturing domination or emotional control. IPV in the last year was reported by 50% of the sample with rates varying by socioeconomic position; families with the lowest and highest income reported the most IPV. Patterns of association between parenting, neighborhood and the children's behavioral problems differed for families who reported IPV in the last year compared to families who reported no IPV. While positive neighborhood characteristics such as high levels of Community Involvement with Children - based upon four scales capturing neighborhood levels of social interaction and collective socialization of children - were protective for high levels of behavioral problems among families not reporting IPV, this protective effect was not seen among families who did report IPV. Hypothesized interactions between negative neighborhood characteristics and IPV-namely that behavioral problems would be worse among families experiencing IPV in highly economically deprived or areas with negative social climates-were not supported by our data. These interactions between neighborhood factors and IPV were not explained by parental factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1404-1415
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Child behavioral problems
  • Children
  • Children's mental health
  • Neighborhoods
  • Partner violence
  • Urban
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)


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