Do animal Cruelty Exposure and Positive Engagement with Pets Moderate Associations Between Children’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Externalizing Behavior Problems?

Angela Matijczak, Shelby E. McDonald, Kelly E. O’Connor, Nicole George, Camie A. Tomlinson, Jennifer L. Murphy, Frank R. Ascione, James Herbert Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prior research has found that co-occurring forms of family violence exacerbate the effect of intimate partner violence (IPV) exposure on children’s externalizing behaviors. Although exposure to animal cruelty (AC) is prevalent among children living in households where IPV occurs, no study to date has tested whether and to what extent AC moderates the relationship between IPV exposure and externalizing behaviors. The current study evaluates whether the associations between exposure to IPV and several indicators of externalizing behavior vary as a function of children’s AC exposure and engagement with pets. Participants included 204 mother–child dyads recruited from IPV services (children aged 7–12 years; 47% female; 77.5% ethnic minority). We conducted a separate multiple moderation analysis for each externalizing outcome (rule-breaking behavior, aggressive behavior, oppositional defiant problems, and conduct problems) using PROCESS to evaluate whether the association between exposure to IPV and externalizing behavior varied as a function of children’s engagement with pets and exposure to AC (adjusting for demographic covariates). Approximately 26% of children were exposed to AC. We did not find evidence that positive engagement with pets or AC exposure moderated the association between IPV and externalizing problems. Although prior research suggests that AC exposure and positive engagement with pets may impact the development of internalizing behavior, this study’s findings have important implications as they suggest that these aspects of human-animal interaction may play a less significant role in the development of externalizing behavior, particularly in the context of IPV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-613
Number of pages13
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Animal abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Externalizing behavior
  • Human–animal interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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