Psychology Article Critique Sample


A prospective study was conducted by McDonald, Jouriles, Rosenfield, and Corbitt-Shindler to study the predictors of aggression towards children by domestically violent men. This article will critically review the study by focusing on their hypothesis and background, description of their methods used and discuss the results that they got.

Background and Hypothesis of the Study

According to the researchers, over 32000 women and children in USA are housed temporarily in domestic violence shelters. They claim that the number of children who witness violent acts of their fathers to their mothers is high as is the number of children who are targets to their fathers aggression. Men involved in intimate partner violence (IPV) with their wives are more likely to be violent to their children. Violence towards children makes them have adjustment problems and they may become violent as well. They claim that this is why children’s safety should be of great concern for women who seek shelter due to domestic violence. Women also seek shelter sometimes because of they are concerned about the safety of their children.

The researchers also indicated that a study that focused on partner-child aggression (PCA) did not show the results on the predictors of violence towards children. They referred to a work that showed that the risk factors for the violence are not decreased by seeking shelter or separating from the husbands. They concluded that violence of the men before shelter-seeking predicts violence after shelter. Women victims of IPV fear violence from their partners even after separation because their will always be ties of the fathers and the children. Other factors that they hypothesized are violence to the children by the women and the biological relationship of the parents and the children. McDonald, Jouriles, Rosenfield & Corbit-Shindler, 2011).

Method Used

The researchers used secondary data in their study obtained from a randomized clinical trial that was carried out to evaluate Project Support which is an intervention to the domestic violence experienced by women and children. The study’s participants were 66 children between 4 and 9 years old and their mothers, where in each family the mother had sought shelter due to domestic violence, and they had met the diagnostic criteria for conduct or oppositional defiant disorder. The mothers had also moved with their children to a different resident and become independent of their partners.

Using the participants in study of the secondary data, the researchers collected data from assessing in-shelter screening and five follow-up assessments 2 months apart in their homes. For mother and child aggression; and pre-shelter and post-shelter PCA, mothers were asked the frequency and severity of the aggression towards the children by their partners and themselves. They assessed the validity of the data by correlating the data with that of the partners and correlating the violence to childrens conduct problems.for post-shelter IPV, the mothers reported on the frequency of the 12 acts of IPV in every four months. The mothers were also asked to report on the number of in-person contact of the fathers with their children. Child conduct problems data was collected by asking the mothers to complete the externalizing scale checklist of the behavior of the child. . (McDonalds et al. 2011).

Results and Discussion

The researchers found that post-shelter contact, previous PCA, and post-shelter IPV were predictors of violence towards children such that the severity and frequency of violence was high when these predictors were positive or many. . (McDonalds et al. 2011). Many authors have supported the findings in their work. Murphy and McDonell claim that child violence and intimate adult violence are interlinked. They are strongly correlated that death of children may occur in the presence of violence against women. They also comment about the likeliness of violence to recur in the presence of PCA. This is why custody of children following separation should be carefully assessed with PCA and IPV.

Lindani and Malik also have written that when marital conflicts are intense and frequent, the appraisals of threat and self-blame are greater in children. Mak also supports this and adds that this may lead to decreased adaptability of the child. Marital conflicts are associated with more appraisals of the children.

There may be authors who have supported post-shelter contact as a determinant, but it is not clear on how it can be one. Most authors like Bream and Buchanan look at post-shelter children violence in a different light in that it causes distress in the children when the parents are separated or divorced because they don’t make decisions together and make agreements on how to bring up the children.