Published On: Sun, Oct 22nd, 2017

Alcoholic parents up risk of teen dating violence

Washington: Dear parents, please-take-note! Having a parent, especially father, with an alcohol use disorder may increase the risk of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse (or violence) within a dating relationship among adolescents, warns a study.

Parents are drinking in front of their offspring.

Parents are drinking in front of their offspring.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo in New York also found that the risk for violence can be lessened when parents are able to be more warm and sensitive in their interactions with their children during the toddler years.

Lead author Jennifer A. Livingston said, “Although teen dating violence is typically viewed as a problem related specifically to adolescent development, our findings indicate that the risk for aggressive behavior and involvement in dating violence are related to stressors experienced much earlier in life.”

The team evaluated 144 teenagers, who had fathers with an alcohol use disorder and who had been initially recruited for study at 12 months of age.

By analysing data that was collected regularly over the course of their lifespan, they were able to identify factors that led to some of the teenagers to be involved in abusive dating relationships.

“It appears that family dynamics occurring in the preschool years and in middle childhood are critical in the development of aggression and dating violence in the teenage years,” she explained.

Mothers living with partners who have alcohol use disorder tended to be more depressed and as a result were less warm and sensitive in their interactions with their children, beginning in infancy.

“This is significant because children with warm and sensitive mothers are better able to regulate their emotions and behaviour,” Livingston explained.

These conditions can interfere with children’s abilities to control their own behaviour, resulting in higher levels of aggression in early and middle childhood.

Children who are more aggressive in childhood, particularly with their siblings, are more likely to be aggressive with their romantic partners during their teenage years.

Livingston explained that the findings underscore the critical need for early intervention and prevention with families who are at-risk due to alcohol problems.

This in turn can reduce marital conflict and increase the children’s self-control, and ultimately reduce involvement in aggressive behaviour, the authors concluded.

ANI

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