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Dissertation

Children's loneliness as a function of domestic violence exposure

20 April 2007

Abstract

Research indicates that children exposed to domestic violence are at an increased risk for behavioral, emotional, and social disturbances. Research also suggests that similar disturbances may place children at increased risk for loneliness. Despite the overlapping findings, loneliness has not been explicitly examined in children exposed to domestic violence. In this study, the Children's Loneliness Scale (CLQ) (Asher & Wheeler, 1985) was used to measure loneliness in 16 children ages 7 to 12 years receiving individual, group, or family therapy services from an outpatient domestic violence center. The CLQ scores of children exposed to domestic violence were compared to CLQ scores of 34 children ranging in age from 7 to 12 years from a comparison group drawn from the general public. Contrary to the hypotheses, the results indicated no significant difference in loneliness scores between the two groups. A number of methodological limitations of the study are discussed including the small number of participants in the study, the differing sample sizes between the two groups, the ethnic differences between the groups, and the lack of screening for domestic violence in the comparison group. Although, on the basis of this research, children exposed to domestic violence do not differ from children in the general population in regards to loneliness, the methodological limitations of the study preclude firm conclusions. Recommendations for future research are discussed.


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