Child Exposure to Family Violence (CEV)

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a complex and significant public health problem with adverse physical and mental health consequences not only for the adults involved but also for the children who are exposed to IPV. However, the impact of IPV exposure on children’s adjustment has shown substantial variability. Child Exposure to Family Violence (CEV) draws […]

Project Overview

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a complex and significant public health problem with adverse physical and mental health consequences not only for the adults involved but also for the children who are exposed to IPV. However, the impact of IPV exposure on children’s adjustment has shown substantial variability. Child Exposure to Family Violence (CEV) draws upon Dynamic Developmental Systems Theory to examine IPV dynamics and family/child risk and protective factors and processes that relate to children’s adjustment, including psychopathology, social competence, and academic achievement into adolescence. CEV advances the field in important regards. The inclusion of dyadic aggression data across multiple family contexts, over two generations, will help build theory and inform more tailored, timely interventions.

We are conducting a secondary analysis study using a prospective multi-generation data set involving children (N = 265, ~50% girls at age 5 years) of the Oregon Youth Study (OYS) men and the children’s biological mothers (even if the couple has separated) from the Three Generational Study (3GS). At enrollment into the OYS in Grade 4, the men were at risk for aggression (by virtue of living in neighborhoods with relatively high rates of juvenile delinquency) and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The available 3GS data set includes two generations with childhood data on each (i.e., developmental history of the OYS fathers and their offspring), and includes five waves of IPV and six waves of child adjustment data for the offspring over a 12-year period using a multi-agent/method measurement strategy. We will first examine (1) moderation of early childhood proximal associations between exposure to violence (IPV and parent aggression) and child adjustment by child and parent gender. Next, we will capitalize on the prospective, longitudinal design to examine (2) how the developmental timing of violence exposure may affect changes in offspring adjustment across adolescence; (3) risk and protective factors (e.g., effortful control, parent monitoring) that may mediate associations between violence exposure in childhood and adolescence adjustment; (4) intergenerational transmission of IPV (and parent aggression) and the circumstances whereby parents’ developmental risk factors (e.g., exposure to IPV during childhood) increase the occurrence of IPV (and parent aggression) in adulthood and the risk of child adjustment difficulties.

Year Project Began: 2016
Funder: National Institute of Justice

Principal Investigator

Joann Wu Shortt, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Active Research Projects

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Shortt received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She investigates how family and friend relationships including siblings and couples shape our development across the life span. Her research focuses on emotion processes such as emotion regulation and emotion socialization, and she built a psychophysiological lab at OSLC to observe physiological regulation during dyadic interaction. Her work has involved observational methodology to understand interactional processes and mechanisms at work in predicting intimate partner violence (IPV), relationship outcomes, and child/adolescent/adult psychopathology. Shortt has been a co-investigator on the Oregon Youth Study Couples Project for over 10 years, and recently completed Project Home, a NIMH-funded cross-site study that developed an emotion-focused parenting intervention for incarcerated mothers reuniting with their children to promote emotion regulation and emotion-coaching skills.

Q&A with Joann Wu Shortt

How long have you been at OSLC?  What were you doing before you joined OSLC?

I was a graduate student of John Gottman at the University of Washington before joining OSLC as a postdoc. I became a scientist at OSLC in 2000.

What was your very first OSLC project?

I initially collaborated with Lew Bank and John Reid and then Deborah Capaldi on the Oregon Youth Study and Oregon Youth Study-Couples Study at OSLC. These projects provided an incredible foundation for my first grant.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a new grant funded by the National Institute of Justice to predict IPV in the romantic relationships of lower socioeconomic young men and women, originally recruited for the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) Study. I also collaborate with colleagues to disseminate findings from other datasets.

What’s your favorite thing/what do you like best about the current project?

Working with long time collaborators Deborah Capaldi at OSLC and Mark Eddy now at University of Washington and more recent collaborators Sabina Low at Arizona State University and Stacey Tiberio at OSLC. We are excited about the outstanding 15+ year extant LIFT dataset and the unique opportunity to examine the longitudinal associations between risk factors in childhood and adolescence and IPV in young adulthood.

What is the impact of your current project for children, families, and communities?

IPV is a complex and significant public health problem due to its high prevalence, adverse physical and mental health consequences, and role as a precursor to future violence. The current project increases the knowledge on empirically supported models of risk factors needed to develop effective IPV prevention programs. Specifying the predictors of IPV in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood can yield highly specific behavioral targets for treatment programs and inform the developmental timing and tailoring of interventions for various public health problems, including IPV.

What do you like best about what you do?

Working with ideas and data, and conducting research that has public health significance and the potential to decrease the impact of risk factors such as IPV on the development of young people.

What’s your next project?

I became enormously interested in aging when I taught Life Span Development for UO Counseling Psychology, and noted that more is known about the early end of the life span than the end and the lack of longitudinal studies in later life. I am pursuing funding to follow the Oregon Youth Study parents as they age.

In my spare time, I practice yoga, including as a volunteer yoga teacher through the Delivering Accessible Yoga Alternatives (DAYA) Program at Looking Glass’s residential Intensive Treatment Services and Pathway Girls Program.

Something few people know about me is that I play the violin with friends in a string quartet called Coda.