What is the influence of life events/threats such as premature birth, divorce, illness and death?
Children face threats at every stage of their development. Premature infants require special care from their parents. The STAP project monitors the development of moderately premature infants (born after 32–37 weeks of pregnancy). Another risk factor for healthy child adjustment is parental divorce or separation. Many children worldwide grow up with divorced parents, and in the Netherlands approximately 86.000 children each year experience the divorce of their parents. In the research project ‘Family Dynamics after Divorce’ (in Dutch: ‘Gezinsrelaties na Scheiding’) multiple family factors are examined to explain individual differences in children’s psychosocial and behavioral adjustment after divorce. Additionally, we assess how these family factors are associated with child adjustment and which children are more susceptible to their impact.
Children may also be faced with the illness of a family member. What is the impact on the child and its parents if a parent falls ill with cancer? Our research aims to improve the support given to this children. Bullying is another key research topic. Many children experience bullying at school, whether as a victim or a perpetrator. As part of our research, we examine the characteristics of both perpetrators and victims, as well as the consequences of bullying.