Huntsville, Tex. (CBS HOUSTON) — Domestic violence is often passed down from parents to children in many families.

A study from Sam Houston State University finds that nearly four out of five families which had intimate partner violence had adult children who later committed violence against partners. Three-quarters of the families had adult children who later became victims of domestic violence themselves.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, intimate partner violence is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. The phrase describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.

“These families, unfortunately, were not able to break the cycle of violence,” study author Kelly Knight, an assistant professor in the College of Criminal Justice in Huntsville said in a university news release. “Most parents who had experienced intimate-partner violence had children who eventually grew up to experience intimate-partner violence themselves.”

Intimate partner violence ranged from physical harm such as pushing to punching, or threatening to kill a partner or spouse.

Ninety-two percent of the parents in the 1600 American families studied reported committing at least one minor act of partner violence. Nearly two-thirds reported committing at least one violent act against their partner.

Ninety-three percent of parents and 78 percent of adult children reported being the victim of minor incidents of intimate-partner violence. About two-thirds (66 percent) of parents said they were victims of violence from their partners.

One-fifth of those studied said they participated in three-or-more types of violence against their partner.

The study was coauthored by Scott Menard, Leana Bouffard and Sara Simmons, from the SHSU College of Criminal Justice, and Rebecca Orsi, from Colorado State University.

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