<- Home <- Arhive <- Vol. 25, Issue 2, June 2017

Rom J Leg Med25(2)217-220(2017)
© Romanian Society of Legal Medicine

The usefulness of the Draw-a-Person (DAP) test in diagnosing domestic violence on children

O. P. Velea, A. I. Lala, L. M. Sturzu, G. Bobîrnac, D. A. Spinu

Abstract: Domestic violence (DV) on children in Romania is a phenomenon which represents both a persistent problem of public health and a common complaint in Forensic Medicine. This study aimed to evaluate the usefulness of one of the most used psychometric tools, the Draw-a-Person test, in identifying children victims of DV. This objective can be seen as a part of a larger endeavor of finding simple, cost-effective psychometric tools, to be used for the prevention of DV or its consequences in Romanian communities.
Twenty-nine children, victims of DV, who were consulted at the Psychiatry service for stress-related symptoms and 25 matched controls participated in the study. The mean age of participants was 12.24 and the sex ratio was 1.08. They were all administered the DAP test. The analysis of all drawings was done by the same investigator and consisted in compiling the distribution of general and specific markers of abuse, and of several markers of child abuse. Later, t- and chi-square tests were run, in order to assess the significance of differences among markers in the two study groups.
The results point out on several markers within the drawings which were distributed asymmetrically among the two study groups. Children who were subjects of DV had significantly smaller drawings (t = 3.76, p =.013), they drew more frequently at least 3 out of 5 specific signs of aggression (41.38% vs. 12.00%; Pearson’s chi-square = 5.776, p = .016) and tended to figure out more often large hands (chi-square = 4.314, p = .038) or to omit them. A number of characteristics do not typically occur at these children, compared to adults (women) subject of DV, e.g. the ability to draw a portrait, instead of a whole person, or the ability to portray at the same time aggression and uncertainty / lack of autonomy.
These findings suggest a potential use of DAP in identifying and monitoring DV in children. Larger prospective studies are however needed before confirming this claim and using this test as a screening tool for DV.
Keywords: drawing, DAP, domestic violence, children, assessment

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