Child witnesses to domestic violence: a meta-analytic review

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2003 Apr;71(2):339-52. doi: 10.1037/0022-006x.71.2.339.


This meta-analysis examined 118 studies of the psychosocial outcomes of children exposed to interparental violence. Correlational studies showed a significant association between exposure and child problems (d = -0.29). Group comparison studies showed that witnesses had significantly worse outcomes relative to nonwitnesses (d = -0.40) and children from verbally aggressive homes (d = -0.28). but witnesses' outcomes were not significantly different from those of physically abused children (d = 0.15) or physically abused witnesses (d = 0.13). Several methodological variables moderated these results. Similar effects were found across a range of outcomes, with slight evidence for greater risk among preschoolers. Recommendations for future research are made, taking into account practical and theoretical issues in this area.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Domestic Violence / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Psychology, Child
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*