Home should always be a safe place for children. Unfortunately that is not the case for around 3-4 million children, ages 3-17, who are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. U.S. government statistics say that 95% of domestic violence cases involve women victims of male partners. The children of these women often witness the domestic violence. Sometimes children get caught up in the violence and are physically harmed.
Warning signs of domestic violence include the following:
- Frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”
- Frequent and sudden absences from work or school
- Child is afraid of inviting another child to his/her home
- Personality changes in a parent (e.g. an outgoing woman becomes withdrawn)
- Excessive fear of conflict
- Submissive behavior, lack of assertiveness
- Isolation from friends and family
- Depression, crying, low self-esteem
Experts believe that children who are raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an effective way to resolve conflicts and problems. They may reproduce the violence they witnessed as children in their teen and adult relationships as well as parenting experiences. Boys who witness their mothers’ abuse are more likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys raised in nonviolent homes. For girls in their adolescence this may result in the belief that threats and violence are the norm in relationships. Children from violent homes also have a higher risk of alcohol/drug abuse, post traumatic stress disorder, and juvenile delinquency. Witnessing domestic violence is the single best predictor of juvenile delinquency and adult criminality. It is also the number one reason children run away.
Resources are available for families who suffer from Domestic Abuse, nationally and many will help you connect with local resources as well.
- The Link Research Project: Understanding the Link Between Child Maltreatment and Woman Battering
- Child Welfare Information Gateway – Children and Domestic Violence
- Domestic Shelters
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Voices for Children
Information on this topic supplied by KidsMatter.Org