Damion J. Grasso, Ph.D., University of Connecticut School of Medicine
Carla Stover, Ph.D. Yale University
Daniel Whitaker, Ph.D., Georgia State University School of Public Health
Overview and Rationale
Intimate partner violence (IPV) impacts families at disturbing rates, with a considerable number of children subject to severe, chronic, and multifaceted violence. These children not only bear witness to psychological and physical forms of violence in the home, but often also experience victimization directly, with IPV exponentially increasing risk for harsh parenting, including severe forms that cross the threshold of what is considered physical abuse. Many of these children also have unmet physical, emotional, and educational needs, and face co-occurring adversities and sociodemographic risk factors that have potential to interact with and exacerbate the adverse effects of IPV. Moreover, IPV exposure in young children has been described as a gateway to subsequent forms of violence and trauma, with linkages to peer victimization, community violence, and physical and sexual assault in adolescence. Novel methods for quantifying and synthesizing these exposures and risk factors are needed to better understand the context of violence within these families.
Not surprisingly, children exposed to IPV are at elevated risk for emergent psychopathology, including depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and disruptive behavior disorders, as well as significant impairment in social, academic, and vocational arenas. These adverse effects can begin as early as prenatally and extend into early childhood and beyond, with cascading effects across the lifespan. Importantly, protective factors (e.g., parenting, family support) can play an instrumental role in mitigating the effects of IPV and promoting recovery. To date, however, we lack sufficient understanding of ecological, behavioral, and biological mechanisms through which these trajectories unfold, nor can we wholly explain the heterogeneity of outcomes – why some children show more resilient outcomes, for example.
The impact of IPV on children undeniably warrants a strong public health response focused on early prevention and intervention strategies. Numerous entities are accountable for this work, including healthcare facilities, school systems, advocacy centers, employers, law enforcement, the court system, juvenile justice, and child welfare, to name a few. Evidence-based screening in various settings is essential for identifying and addressing children’s exposure to IPV, but numerous barriers exist that result in undetected IPV and missed opportunities for connecting families to services.
Implementing and disseminating evidence-based, culturally-sensitive interventions designed to prevent IPV in high-risk families are lacking. Traditional offender treatment programs have not shown great success, and novel approaches that address the needs of families holistically are in their infancy, albeit show promise. More work is needed to establish an evidence-base for these emerging models.
Regarding child safety, there is substantial variability within the United States and beyond in how CPS agencies respond to and address children’s exposure to IPV. Most struggle to optimally define thresholds for determining when IPV places a child at significant risk of physical or emotional harm, and what course of action to take. Indeed, these determinations invite a high degree of subjectivity and potential for underestimated psychological harm to a child and her or his need for services. Research is needed to examine the systemic barriers that compromise an optimal CPS response towards informing best practice and policy.
Finally, there is a lack of crosstalk and collaboration among various systems that impede our ability to grapple with the challenging nuances of IPV, with one example being the strained relationship between many CPS and domestic violence shelter agencies. A promising development involves research-community partnerships that bring together various stakeholders to collaboratively overcome barriers and establish community-specific solutions to the problem of IPV.
The goal of this Special Issue is to solicit a wide range of empirical papers that will help to build our knowledge-base regarding the complex issues surrounding the intersection of IPV and child maltreatment. The following topics are provided as examples of possible foci, but topics in any area of the intersection are welcome.
Novel methods for quantifying and synthesizing dimensions of IPV and child maltreatment
Ecological, behavioral, and biological mechanisms linking IPV and child maltreatment to emergent psychopathology, stress reactivity, and impairment
IPV and intergenerational transmission of violence within families
Novel interventions for preventing IPV in high-risk families
Systemic responses to children’s exposure to IPV
Questions regarding the special issue and the fit of particular topics can be directed to Damion Grasso (firstname.lastname@example.org), Carla Stover (Carla.email@example.com), or Daniel Whitaker (Dwhitkaer@gsu.edu).
The deadline for submitting manuscripts is August 31, 2020. All submitted manuscripts will undergo the regular peer review process. Full-length manuscripts are limited to 30 double-spaced pages, including abstract, tables and references, and should be formatted according to the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Please include a cover letter requesting consideration for publication in the special issue on The Intersection of Intimate Partner Violence and Child Maltreatment. Additional submission guidelines may be found in the journal and at http://cmx.sagepub.com/.
The manuscript should be submitted to Child Maltreatment via the online portal ScholarOne Manuscripts at http://manuscriptcentral.com/childmaltreatment. First-time users will need to create an account before submitting. Please follow the prompts in the Author Center to complete the submission.