Examining Patterns of Exposure to Family Violence in Preschool Children: A Latent Class Approach

Damion J. Grasso*, Amélie Petitclerc, David B. Henry, Kimberly J. McCarthy, Lauren S. Wakschlag, Margaret J. Briggs-Gowan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Young children can experience violence directly or indirectly in the home, with some children exposed to multiple forms of violence. These polyvictims often experience violence that is severe, chronic, and multifaceted. The current study used latent class analysis to identify and examine the pattern of profiles of exposure to family violence (i.e., violence directed towards the child and between caregivers) among a sample of 474 children ages 3–6 year who were drawn from the Multidimensional Assessment of Preschoolers Study (Wakschlag et al., 2014). The data yielded 3 classes: a polyvictimized class (n = 72; 15.2%) with high probability of exposure to all forms of violence, a harsh parenting class (n = 235; 49.5%), distinguished mainly by child-directed physical discipline in the absence of more severe forms of violence, and a low-exposure class (n = 167; 35.2%). Classes were differentiated by contextual factors, maternal characteristics, and mother-reported and observational indicators of parenting and child functioning with most effect sizes between medium and large. These findings add to emerging evidence linking polyvictimization to impaired caregiving and adverse psychological outcomes for children and offer important insight for prevention and intervention for this vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-499
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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