Young abuse victim and sibling in background.

MN Impact: Exploring the Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on Siblings

October 22, 2018

Objective

Social work researchers will explore uncharted issues related to the effects of exposure to child physical abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV) on various family members and develop tools to provide training and professional development for practitioners (reported as the number of professional tools developed).

Issue

In 2016, approximately 3.5 million children were the subject of at least one report to Child Protective Services (CPS) and researchers estimate that seven million children live in families in which severe IPV occurred at least once in the previous year. However, studies on the effect of child maltreatment have largely focused on one child in the family--the child who is maltreated--and rarely account for how other children in the family experience the abuse.

What has been done

In addition to creating resources for professionals who work with children exposed to IPV, PI Lynette Renner and her team examined the academic outcomes of siblings exposed to child maltreatment.

This was done by looking at individual-level data from the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Specifically, they focused on exploring standardized reading and math scores and school attendance among children who experienced direct and indirect child physical abuse. Children were 8-10 years old at the time of the alleged maltreatment and outcomes were examined over four years.

Results

Overall, the study revealed the attendance and achievement of children involved with CPS decreased at significantly faster rates than those of their peers not involved with CPS. Most significantly, attendance and math and reading patterns were negatively affected. Additionally, they uncovered a lack of references to siblings of children who are maltreated early in the CPS case process. Most often, siblings were mentioned in case files when placement outside the home was deemed necessary but they were not often included in other aspects of the case.

Results have been shared via blogs, two Practice Notes and policy and research briefs on the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare website. In particular, the site's Practice Notes series provides topical information to practitioners; and, this study's investigator encourages including siblings in service provision, as appropriate.