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Academic Outcomes Among Children Who Experienced or Were Exposed to Physical Abuse
Journal of Interpersonal Violence  (IF2.621),  Pub Date : 2022-06-02, DOI: 10.1177/08862605221101185
Lynette M. Renner, Kristine N. Piescher, Nicole L. Mickelson

All forms of family violence may negatively affect a child’s development. However, research on child maltreatment is primarily focused on the child who is directly maltreated and does not often account for how other children in the family experience the abuse. The central aim of our study was to better understand how children’s direct experience of physical abuse and exposure to physical abuse influence their academic outcomes. Data were taken from the Minnesota Departments of Education and Human Services. The sample was developed from a population-level cohort of 8–10 years old children (N = 1740) from two groups: Child Protective Service (CPS)-involved (a child who allegedly experienced physical abuse or a child who was exposed to the alleged physical abuse of another child in their household) and the matched comparison. Exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) was also measured for CPS-involved children. School attendance and academic achievement were examined over 4 years. Descriptive statistics and Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) were used to answer the three research questions. Over time, declines in attendance for children exposed to physical abuse were significantly greater than those of their matched peers. Exposure to IPV for CPS-involved children resulted in further declines in attendance. Math proficiency of children who experienced physical abuse declined at a significantly faster rate than their matched peers. The decline in reading proficiency of both children who experienced physical abuse and children exposed to physical abuse was more significantly pronounced than that of their matched peers. Differences in math and reading proficiency were eliminated when IPV exposure was taken into account. Child protection workers and school professionals should be aware of negative effects of experiences of and exposures to child maltreatment and work collaboratively to provide academic support, counseling, and other interventions to support children’s academic stability.