Objective: To determine the association between children's exposure to maternal intimate partner violence (IPV) and academic problems and school health concerns.
Design: The study population consisted of 153 children aged 5 to 16 years who attended public school and whose mothers experienced police- or court-reported IPV. The comparison group consisted of public school peers of the exposed children. Generalized linear modeling using a binomial distribution and log-link function served as the primary method of analysis.
Setting: Urban public school district.
Main outcome measures: The occurrence of academic problems and type-specific school nurse visits during the 1-year study period.
Results: Children whose mothers experienced IPV were more likely to be suspended from school (relative risk [RR], 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2-1.7) and to have had frequent non-suspension-related absences (RR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.0-2.3) than comparison children after adjusting for relevant confounders. Intimate partner violence-exposed children were more likely to have a school nurse visit for social or emotional complaints (RR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.3-3.9), a visit that resulted in being sent home from school (RR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.3), or a visit that led to referral to the school speech pathologist (RR, 7.5; 95% CI, 1.9-29.6) relative to comparison schoolchildren after adjusting for relevant confounders.
Conclusions: Children's exposure to maternal IPV is significantly associated with the occurrence of academic problems and school health concerns. Describing the increased risk of the academic and health problems exhibited by IPV-exposed children relative to nonexposed children offers the possibility of improving the likelihood that clinicians will identify the woman who experienced abuse and her children, and promote referral to appropriate resources.