The ways in which exposure to adult domestic violence has been measured have varied greatly from study to study, thereby prohibiting a direct comparison across studies. Most previous studies are based on parents’ or other key adult informants’ reports using adapted versions of established measures such as the Conflict Tactics Scales. Yet children’s reports of their own experiences often differ from those of their parents. This situation points to a need for measures that gather child self-reports of exposure to violence.
Few child self-report tools have been developed. The Child Exposure to Domestic Violence (CEDV) Scale is a 42-item self-administered scale for children ages 10 to 16 years. It has been shown to be both a reliable measure and one that reflects face, content, and convergent validity. The first of three sections of the CEDV Scale includes a series of questions that specifically target the types of exposure to domestic violence a child may have experienced. Children are asked to rate 10 different items focused on types of adult domestic violence to which they may have been exposed. Each question is answered using a 4-point Likert-type scale, with the choices being never, sometimes, often, and almost always. A second part of this first section requires a child to indicate how he or she knew of the violence occurring at home. If a child responds “never” to a particular question he or she moves onto the next question. However, if the child’s response indicates exposure to such violence, the child is led by an arrow to an additional set of options that ask how he or she was exposed, including five choices: “I saw the outcome (like someone was hurt, something was broken, or the police came),” “I heard about it afterwards,” “I heard it while it was happening,” “I saw it from far away while it was happening,” and “I saw it and was near while it was happening.” After checking all applicable exposures the child is then instructed to move to the next item.
The second section of the CEDV Scale asks a series of 23 questions using the same 4-point Likert-type scale. The child is asked here to rate how often he or she intervened in violent events and about other risk factors present in his or her life. The third and final section of the CEDV Scale consists of nine questions asked to gather demographic information, including gender, age, race and ethnicity, current living situation, and family composition, and concludes with a question about favorite hobbies so as to end on a lighter note.
- Edleson, J. L., Ellerton, A. L., Seagren, E. A., Schmidt, S. O., Kirchberg, S. L., & Ambrose, A. T. (2007). Assessing child exposure to adult domestic violence. Children and Youth Services Review, 29, 961–971.
- Mohr, W. K., & Tulman, W. K. (2000). Children exposed to violence: Measurement considerations within an ecological framework. Advances in Nursing Science, 23, 59–68.
- Child Exposure to Domestic Violence Scale: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/mincava/
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