The quality of peer relationships among children exposed to family violence

Dev Psychopathol. 2001 Winter;13(1):83-96. doi: 10.1017/s0954579401001067.


Three hundred sixty-three school-aged children from maritally violent and nonviolent families were interviewed about their friendship networks, frequency of social contact, the interpersonal quality of their friendships, and hostile attributional biases. Mothers answered items from the Child Behavior Checklist about peer conflict. Children did not differ on the number of friends they claimed or their frequency of contact with peers. However, children exposed to marital violence reported feeling more lonely and having more conflict with a close friend. Their mothers also reported them as having more problems with peers. In addition, children with punitive mothers had more conflict with a best friend. Residing in a shelter added further to children's feelings of loneliness, with one third having no best friend. Children's attributional biases were unrelated to the quality of their peer relations or any other index of peer functioning. Results are discussed in terms of an attachment framework. Findings confirm that it is important to examine the quality of relationships to determine how children at risk fare in their social lives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology
  • Child
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Loneliness / psychology
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Parenting
  • Peer Group*
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Violence / psychology*