Effects of Country of Origin and Cognitive Development on Psychological Adjustment and Family Cohesion of Latino Youth Witnesses of Domestic Violence

Ted D. Allaire, Georgia State University
R. Lillie Macias, Georgia State University
Julia L. Perilla, Georgia State University


Latino children living in the context of domestic violence (DV) often lack access to cultural-specific services. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among Latino children’s level of cognitive development (age), country of origin and psychological adjustment as well as styles of coping with domestic violence . Analysis of data collected from an interview conducted with Latino children at a local DV intervention program suggests that Latino children utilize a range of coping responses when confronted with violence in their homes. In a regression analysis using psychological adjustment as the dependent variable, developmental age was not related to adjustment in children. However, country of origin was a significant predictor of psychological adjustment. That is, immigrant children reported lower levels of psychological adjustment compared to children born in the U.S. This remained true while controlling for age, coping strategy, and family cohesion. The growing number of immigrant Latino children in the United States increases the need for culturally relevant research with racial and ethnic minority groups in regard to DV. These findings suggest immigrant Latino children have unique needs in the context of DV.