Political Violence and Child Adjustment in Northern Ireland: Testing Pathways in a Social-Ecological Model Including Single- and Two-Parent Families

Robert Cummings, A.C. Schermerhorn, C.E. Merrilees, M.C. Goeke-Morey, Peter Shirlow, E. Cairns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Moving beyond simply documenting that political violence negatively impacts children, we tested a social ecological hypothesis for relations between political violence and child outcomes. Participants were 700 mother child (M = 12.1 years, SD = 1.8) dyads from 18 working-class, socially deprived areas in Belfast, Northern Ireland, including single- and two-parent families. Sectarian community violence was associated with elevated family conflict and children's reduced security about multiple aspects of their social environment (i.e., family, parent child relations, and community), with links to child adjustment problems and reductions in prosocial behavior. By comparison, and consistent with expectations, links with negative family processes, child regulatory problems, and child outcomes were less consistent for nonsectarian community violence. Support was found for a social ecological model for relations between political violence and child outcomes among both single- and two-parent families, with evidence that emotional security and adjustment problems were more negatively affected in single-parent families. The implications for understanding social ecologies of political violence and children's functioning are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-841
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Demography
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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