Children, Youth, and Families

Domestic violence is a pressing public health issue. Over 15 million children in our nation live in homes where there has been at least one incident of domestic violence in the past year, and seven million children live in families where severe partner violence has occurred.[i]

Data indicates that 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the home.[ii] Growing up in abusive household can pose a threat to not only the child’s physical health but his mental health as well.

Research indicates that the non-abusive parent is often one the most important protective factors in the lives of children who witness domestic violence. All women, children, and men have the right to live in a safe environment and to conduct their lives without emotional, physical or sexual abuse or the fear of abuse.

Often, one of the greatest concerns for battered women is the affect of living in a violent home environment on children. In some instances, the domestic becomes so severe that women with children leave their homes without a place to go. Research indicates that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. In a 2007 report by the United States Conference of Mayors, thirty-nine percent of the city leaders who were surveyed identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness among households with children.[iii]

Social science research indicates that children’s reaction to witnessing domestic violence may appear immediately after the traumatic event or days or even weeks later. Some children are more vulnerable to trauma than for others. It has been shown that the impact of witnessing a domestic violence incident is likely to have the greatest impact in children or adolescents who have experienced or witnessed other traumatic events.

Children with poor family supports is more at risk for a poor recovery. It is important for children that have witnessed incidents of domestic violence receive counseling to discuss their feelings and ways to keep them safe. To find counseling programs in your area specifically for child witnesses to domestic violence you should reach out to your local domestic violence program.

Source(s): Center for Disease Control and Prevention; McDonald, Renee, Ernest N. Jouriles, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, et al. 2006. Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner-Violent Families; Edelson, J.L. (1999). “The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Women Battering.” Violence Against Women. 5:134-154; U.S. Conference of Mayors. 2007. A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities: A 23-City Survey. Washington, DC.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

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[i] McDonald, Renee, Ernest N. Jouriles, Suhasini Ramisetty-Mikler, et al. 2006. Estimating the Number of American Children Living in Partner-Violent Families.

[ii] Edelson, J.L. (1999). “The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Women Battering.” Violence Against Women. 5:134-154.

[iii] U.S. Conference of Mayors. 2007. A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities: A 23-City Survey. Washington, DC.

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