The Effects of Witnessing And Experiencing Family Violence: Gender Differences Among Filipino Adolescents

Alicia Vanden Bussche


Research shows that there has been a major increase in cases of family violence in the past few years. Between three and 17.8 million children are exposed to at least one incident of family violence each year. However, it has only been in the last three decades that studies have started to examine the effects of children’s exposure to family violence; consequently, there is need to understand the effects of exposure to familial violence on children. The meager research that has been completed on children’s exposure to family violence finds that family violence, and violence against children, is viewed as a major risk factor for delinquency and significant in predicting violent crime. Witnessing or experiencing family violence between parents is highly stressful and is a risk factor for a variety of psycho-social problems, including health and mental health problems, drinking and drug use, marital conflict and violence as child victims become adults, physical abuse of their children, and assaults and other crime outside the family. Most studies that trace delinquency back to family violence focus specifically on boys. Currently, very little is known about how exposure to family violence in childhood affects males and females differently with respect to delinquency. One goal of this research is to examine the effects of witnessing and/or experiencing family violence and the differences by gender. If there are differences by gender, services may need to reflect the unique needs of boys and girls. This study utilizes a sample of adolescents from a medium-sized city in the Philippines. The purpose of this research is to examine the effects of exposure to both witnessing and experiencing family violence on children's antisocial behaviors. Differences by gender are specifically examined. Results show that there are differences in predictors of aggression and delinquency for boys and girls. In both boys and girls, witnessing violence two or more times, experiencing violence firsthand and having aggressive tendencies are significant predictors of antisocial behavior and aggression. Self-concept, or how the adolescents viewed themselves, is not a factor in predicting antisocial behaviors and aggression. Consistent with other studies that have been conducted in the past, this study finds that boys are significantly more delinquent and aggressive than girls. This study extends the generalizability of the effects of family violence on youth behaviors across cultures. Most studies of family violence do not go beyond Western societies, thus, there is need to assess the generalizability of the effects of family violence found in Western societies to other cultures and contexts.


Delinquency; Gender; Violence

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