Witnessing Arrests and Elevated Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress: Findings from a National Study of Children Involved in the Child Welfare System
Phillips, Susan D.
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This study used data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being to test the hypothesis that witnessing the arrest of a household member is significantly associated with elevated PTS symptoms. Analyses are based on data on 1,869 children ages 8 and up who were subjects of reports of maltreatment. Results show that the children child welfare authorities encounter who have witnessed arrests are significantly more likely to have also (1) witnessed multiple types of violence in their homes, (2) been victims of multiple types of violence, (3) witnessed non-violent crimes, and (4) lived in families having problems meeting children’s basic needs. Results of multivariate analyses indicate that, all else being equal, witnessing the arrest of a household member either alone or in conjunction with the recent arrest of a parent is predictive of elevated posttraumatic symptoms. Approximately 1 in 4 children who witnessed an arrest and also had a recently arrested parent had elevated symptoms of posttraumatic stress.