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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3121.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 11:20 AM

Abstract #116929

Relationship between verbal abilily, maternal depression, and physically aggressive behavior among children

Elizabeth Anson, BA1, Robert E. Cole, PhD1, Harriet J. Kitzman, RN, PhD1, Kimberly J. Sidora-Arcoleo, MPH1, and Linda Chaudron, MD, MS2. (1) School of Nursing, University of Rochester Medical Center, 255 Crittenden Blvd, Rochester, NY 14620, 585-275-0507, elizabeth_anson@urmc.rochester.edu, (2) Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, 300 Crittenden Blvd., Rochester, NY 14642-8409

Objective: Physically aggressive behavior results from a complex interaction of environmental, parent and child factors. Physical aggression peaks between 24 - 42 months. As language develops, children shift from use of physical to verbal aggression. We examined the relationship between children's verbal ability, maternal depression, and physical aggression.

Methods: Prospective study of an economically and racially diverse sample of 278 mothers of 3 year-old children. Maternal depression assessed using the computerized diagnostic interview schedule (C-DIS) and child verbal ability at age 3 assessed using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT). Physical aggression measured at age 4 using the physical aggression items from the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL).

Results: Children with lower verbal ability exhibited greater physical aggression (b= -.004, p =.02) and presence of maternal depression predicted increased physical aggression (b= .18, p=.03). There was an interaction between maternal depression and child verbal ability on physical aggression (b= -.10 p=.05). These results remained after controlling for mother's socioeconomic status (SES) and education.

Conclusions: Children with low verbal ability and depressed mothers had the highest incidence of physically aggressive behavior. Non-depressed mothers managed to socialize their children such that weak verbal skills did not lead to physical aggression. The relationships between child temperament and skill levels are not unequivocally related to aggression- they are moderated by parental characteristics. It is necessary to examine, through evidence-based research, more complex models of parent, child and environmental factors if effective early prevention approaches tailored to these specific characteristics are to be developed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learning Objectives

    Keywords: Violence Prevention, Children

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:

    I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

    [ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

    The Fourth Annual Outstanding Student Papers in Maternal and Child Health Showcase

    The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA