Sunday, Sep 27 2020

There is no causal relationship between having suffered gender-based violence in childhood and future violence

Original posted by Esther Roca

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Explanation of the Post

The idea that children who have been victims of violence and have been exposed to it in their homes will be violent, has become a common belief of many education professionals, and this statement revictimizes these children and increases their suffering trajectories.

It is not true that scientific evidence has found a consistent link with the perpetuation of violence.

Some scientific evidence in this regard:

Widom, C. S. (1989). The cycle of violence. Science244(4901), 160-166.

This is about the link between child victimization and subsequent antisocial and violent behavior  that is far from certain, and the intergenerational transmission of violence is not inevitable

Margolin, G., & Gordis, E. B. (2000). The effects of family and community violence on children. Annual review of psychology51(1), 445-479.

Holt, S., Buckley, H., & Whelan, S. (2008). The impact of exposure to domestic violence on children and young people: A review of the literature. Child abuse & neglect32(8), 797-810.

Even the studies that did find some correlation in the 1990s do not provide any causal relationship, what they say is that it could be considered a logical theoretical link between the experience of physical abuse in early life and the later development of aggressive behaviour; they do not claim that it exists, but that this is the approach of some theorists.

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  1. This is so important for schools, educators and families, because it allows for more optimistic and transformative approaches and interventions. Thank you!

  2. This account is out of date and inaccurate. A series of reviews have found that childhood exposure to domestic and family violence increases the likelihood of adult perpetration of violence, particularly for boys. See here for recent reviews and meta-analyses:


  3. Thanks for your message and your bibliography. We cannot see in the scientific literature evidence of a causal relationship between “Childhood exposure to violence and likelihood of adult perpetration of violence, particularly for boys”; please, if you have found this kind of evidence in some of the article you sent in your message, I would kindly like to ask you to point out which is this evidence and in which articles can be found. I have found correlations, but not causal relationships. I have also found statements about causal relations, but without support of scientific evidence. I was a victim of gender violence and I could transform myself into a survivor thanks to the help of men and women, some of whom had been exposed to violence when they were children. Children with exposure to violence are victims; projecting into them the suspicion that they will become perpetrators is revictimization. Besides, this projection also creates difficulties for the solidarity we need from them to transform ourselves from victims to survivors.

  4. Oliver E.; Merodio, G. & Melgar, P. (2021). Preventive socialisation of intimate partner violence through the analysis of family interactions and previous intimate relationships. (Eds). Devaney, J. et al. The Routledge International Handbook of Domestic Violence and Abuse.
    Some of the previous posts have already argued that there is no scientific evidence of causality, that is, that those who argue for the widespread existence of intergenerational transmission of violence do not go beyond showing correlation in some cases. To these arguments I would like to add the results presented in the chapter I quoted at the beginning. Specifically, the research on preventive socialisation of gender-based violence, whose evidence focuses on early sexual and affective relationships in order to understand the violence experienced in adult life.


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