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Article Review

Lepistö S, Luukkaala, T., & Paavilainen, E. (2011). Witnessing and experiencing domestic violence: a descriptive study of adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences25(1), 70–80.

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What is the topic? The topic of this article is adolescents who have witnessed and experienced domestic violence. Domestic violence within families is usually kept a secret and a source of shame. The bystanders around these domestic violent families are often reluctant to intervene. This topic investigates the negative effects domestic violence can have on adolescents during development. As well as highlights/describes the different types of domestic violence adolescents witness in their homes.

What is the problem statement? The problem statement is domestic violence continues to be a global problem. Domestic violence tends to escalate quickly and adolescents are at the forefront of witnessing/experiencing this violence in homes that should be a place of safety. Furthermore, domestic violence and poor family relationships give rise to many symptoms in adolescents, depending on their age and developmental stage. The most common symptoms include behavioral disturbances and psychological symptoms.

What was the research question of the study you are reviewing? What were the authors trying to discover? There is a lack of research describing the different types of domestic violence adolescents witness. More research is needed so professionals such as nurses, school health care aids, and child welfare clinics can better identify different types of domestic violence. Hence the researchers are trying to discover what types of domestic violence are adolescents witnessing/experiencing in their homes. In addition, is there an association between families’ backgrounds and the types of domestic violence prevalent in these adolescents’ homes.

What were the research methodologies? Analyze its literature review, the samples and variables used, the results, and the conclusions. Does the research seem to be complete? Could it have been conducted more soundly? What further questions does it raise? These researchers surveyed 1,393 ninth-graders from Finnish Municipality. The sample consisted of nineteen schools. The researchers took the mean age of adolescents between fourteen and seventeen thus surveying fifteen-year-old ninth graders. The sample was divided by gender. Adolescents were also identified by their family dynamic. Furthermore, the survey highlighted two question sets about witnessing domestic violence and parental violence. Witnessing domestic violence was a close-ended question. Originally responses were rated based on violent incidents. Less than ten incidents equated the response ‘sometimes’ and over ten incidents equated the response ‘often’. However, this incident detector became problematic thus the researchers changed the response options to reflect a rating scale of 1-4, values 1–3 equated a response of ‘sometimes’, and values higher than 4 equated the response of ‘often’. Results showed sixty-seven percent of respondents had experienced parental symbolic aggression, 55% mild violence, and 9% severe violence during their childhood. Twelve percent of adolescents had witnessed parent-to-parent violence.

The research seems to be complete: the authors/facilitators were able to describe different types of domestic violence adolescents are witnessing/experiencing in their homes. In addition, researchers were able to identify risk factors for adolescents depending on their family background. I believe research could have been conducted more soundly if the facilitators did not reestablish the rating scale regarding prior reported incidents of violence in adolescent homes. This way participants/adolescents would not have had to re-rate violent incidents–making them re-live those traumatic events. From this study, I have raised questions about the different types of violence that exist in other family dynamics where ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are not to sole caretakers–would the risk factors depending on the household/family background be more severe or equivalent to a single parent, nuclear families, and divorced/shared custodial parental figures home.

If there are conflicting studies, why do you think that is? Based on further research there are far more studies that agree with the results discussed previously than ones that conflict with these results. In many studies, adolescents are at a heightened risk for psychological and behavioral issues. Other studies may vary depending on the population of adolescents they are surveying. In this case, the authors looked at one grade level. Whereas other studies look at multiple grade levels of adolescents. What this study failed to specify is how adolescents exposed to domestic violence can also have issues during physical development.

How are the authors viewed in the field? Has this study been cited; if so, how has it been analyzed? This is a peer-reviewed study and it was included in the Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. The authors of this article do have backgrounds in medicine, science, and education. I believe based on the results/discussion in the study that the authors have been recognized as reliable researchers. However, it was hard to look up more studies and background information regarding the authors since they’re based in Finland. Language barriers may contribute to this seeing as the translation from Scandinavian languages to English may not be correct. Despite this study being peer-reviewed it certainly had its limitations. Data collection was limited to a single Finnish Municipality, as this can affect generalization. Moreover, this study was conducted in a classroom. Although teachers rearranged the classroom so students could have more privacy answering the survey, the limitation section did note that it was unlikely that this procedure succeeded in eliciting information on all violent incidents.

How does this article relate to your topic and projected study? This study provides a description and differentiation between the types of violence adolescents may witness in their homes. As mentioned by the authors, it is important to recognize these different types of violence. This way professionals can look for the telltale signs that an adolescent is in a domestic violent household. Furthermore, professionals can research interventions and services that best suit the needs of each adolescent if they are in a domestic violent home. In addition, this article confirmed that domestic violence indeed has a negative effect on adolescents during cognitive and emotional development. Adolescents exposed to domestic violence are at risk of behavioral and psychological issues. They are also at risk of more severe domestic violence and sexual abuse depending on the family’s background and incorporation of corporal punishment. This article highlights an extremely important perception that adolescents’ homes and families are traditionally viewed as a place of safety and comfort. But this is not true for every adolescent. Sometimes the home is a violent environment which is detrimental to the development of a growing adolescent. Therefore, I plan on incorporating the results of this study to further aid my research topic of how domestic violence affects adolescents who witness it.

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