Violence and Its Impact on Children Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Children and Violence

Exposure to domestic violence can have negative effects on children that may result in short-term or long-term complications in the child's life. Taking timely and appropriate measures help limit the negative effects such experiences may have on children. Young kids living in families experiencing domestic violence are a disempowered lot. They develop limited emotional literacy and verbal skills. Further, the environment occasioned by domestic violence is that of intimidation and secrecy. The caregivers are also less emotionally available to the children. Together, such factors restrict the children's opportunity and capacity to make their opinions heard. To help the children, their preferences should be considered and a healthy environment that ensures the maintenance of the daily routine of children is maintained in the temporary shelters. They should be continually supported and support structures established in every area that the children are. Discussed in this paper are the consequences of exposing a child to domestic violence and the various treatments that can be used to assist the child overcome the traumatizing experiences.


Domestic violence has effects not only on the women but also on the children dwelling with the adults. The perspectives of children on the violence rocking their family are often not similar to those of the adults (Sternberg, Lamb, Guterman & Abbott, 2006). For instance, the effects on children might be more than is considered by the adults. This applies to children's experience of support given as well. Exposing children to domestic violence will affect their development for the rest of their lives. Children exposed to domestic violence (CEDV) have a higher risk of developing anxiety, depression and always have several behavioral issues like aggression, rebellion in school, acting out as well as delinquency (Mrltzer, Doos, Vostanis, Ford & Goodman, 2009). Such exposure might also cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 2008). Extended bedwetting and delayed speech may also result (Margolin & Gordis, 2000) (Nguyen, Edleson & Kimball, n.d.).

Further, CEDV risk developing emotional and attachment disorders which may affect their relationships later on in life (Carpenter & Stacks, 2009). A longitudinal research study done by Paradis et al. (2009) discovered that exposing children to arguments in the family by the age of 15 impaired psychological functioning (i.e., self-esteem and self-efficacy) as well as professional achievement in adulthood at the age of 30. Further, a 20-year longitudinal study found out that exposure to domestic violence in early childhood doubled or even tripled the chances of one being a perpetrator of domestic violence as compared to those who had healthier childhoods (Ehrensaft et al. 2003; Whitfield et al. 2003) (Nguyen, Edleson & Kimball, n.d.).

How Do Children React to Domestic Violence?

The reaction of children to domestic violence is influenced by many factors. Signs of distress are not exhibited by some children while others develop coping capabilities of their own. Some children become more affected than others. Several factors like age, prior history of trauma, temperament and experience all come into play. For instance, an adolescent that experienced continued domestic violence acts will experience different effects when compared to a child aged 12 that experienced just one act of violence. A child of six who saw a parent lying on the ground bleeding profusely and feared for her life will have a different perception to a child who had a less serious perception of such an incident (Brown & Luppi, 2010).

The problems between violent fathers and their children varied. Patterns of unhealthy parent-child interactions are: neglect and unresponsiveness, emotional unavailability; negative attributions and misattributions to the child and hostility, rejection and denigration; Inconsistent or inappropriate interactions that are inconsistent developmentally; Lack of appreciation of the child's boundaries and individuality; and failure to promote the social adaptation of the child (Stewart & Scott, 2014).

Typical Short-Term Responses

A recent study revealed that 12% of children under the age of 11 had at a point had exposure to domestic abuse between adults (NSPCC,2011). Suggestions made that children are unaware of the domestic violence occurring at home have now been done away with and replaced with the appreciation of children's awareness of both the violence taking place and the consequences. Symptoms resulting from such experiences include depression and anxiety problems, a reduction in their social aptitude and some other symptoms manifested physically like disturbed sleep, failure to thrive especially among the young ones and bedwetting. Children exposed to domestic violence reportedly had lower IQs than those from non-violent settings and so affecting their school performance (Thornton, 2014).

There exist a continuous threat to physical harm and violence (Goldblatt, 2003) thereby forcing children to be always hyper-vigilant and alert (Epsten & Keep, 1995). Such children have said that they feel ignored and isolated (Ericksen & Henderson, 1992). They struggle to share the concerns they have because their peer relationships are restricted (Epsten & Keep, 1995) or because they fear that professionals wouldn't believe them (Mc Gee, 2000). Such children should be helped and supported so as to understand the emotional responses they are having. Such emotional responses may be helplessness, fear, guilt, frustration and confusion (Thornton, 2014).

Children's Long-Term Responses

Research shows that children exposed to domestic violence may in the long-term develop anxiety and depression, drug abuse, impulsive deeds including unprotected sex, self-destructive behaviors, low self-esteem, chronic ailments and violent or criminal behavior. Therapy can however arrest these problems (Thornton, 2014). Children's responses to domestic violence differ widely, with a number of them exhibiting remarkable resilience. Research has shown that a notable minority (37% to 50%) of children exposed to domestic violence do not exhibit any problems greater than those exhibited by their counterparts from healthy backgrounds. This could be due to the variety and nature of the violence and the extent of the child's exposure to such violence as well as other stressors in the family. The child's coping capabilities or lack of those skills thereof, and the absence or presence of factors of protection may also come into play (Nguyen, Edleson & Kimball, n.d.).

What Factors Help Children Recover

Several models of heterogeneity in maltreating parents have been advanced by researchers, focusing mainly on mothers. Attempts made earlier on focused on the characteristics of the maltreating parents or tied differentiating families based on the kinds of abuse being investigated (i.e. neglect vs. physical abuse) (Stewart & Scott, 2014). Oldershaw, Walters and Hall (1989) presented an early cluster model. Based on behavioral observational data cluster analysis, the researchers selected three parent subgroups differentiated by names -- "emotionally distant,," "hostile," and "intrusive" in the interactions they have with their children.

A majority of the children exhibited resilience when given support after the traumatic experiences. Research reveals that community and family support are critical in increasing the capacity of the children to be resilient and helping them recover and also thrive. Critical to the resilience of the child is having a caring, protective and positive adult in their lives. While a long-term relationship with a caring caregiver would be the best, even a short one with an adult who is caring -- a teacher, mentor, etc. - can be very beneficial.

Develop Safety Plans

Safety plans is a key step in improving the children's and mother's well being. Safety planning ought to encompass immediate and future safety planning. Planning like that can involve occasions when to ring 911, places to run to in case violence erupts, and identification of safe individuals to converse with about the experiences (Sullivan, Egan & Gooch, 2004). Efforts focused on protection like safety planning can assist lower stress levels in children arising from the violence in the family (Gewirtz & Edieson, 2007).

The physical environment encountered by the children can also be a contributor of feelings of security and safety. For instance, living in temporary dwellings can be a fresh experience to the children and they might have problems adjusting. Because of this, certain behavioral problems may be worsened at such times. The creation of welcoming environments that support routines carried out daily may help lower such issues. Environments like that are accessible, contain games and toys suitable for children of all ages and genders and promote play that is not violent ( Nguyen, Edleson & Kimball, n.d.).

What Parents Should Tell their Children about Domestic Violence

A number of parents may not want to admit that their child or children have been exposed to domestic violence. Some may downplay the actual extent of exposure that the child has had (saying, for instance, "They were not aware it was taking place," or "They were often at school or asleep"). A parent that is on the receiving end of the violence may also not want to talk to the child about what is happening. They make the assumption that the child won't understand because of their age. But most children exposed to violence should have a talk about what is happening. They may not understand what exactly happened or the reason for it happening. They may put blame on themselves, the victim or the authorities or police who…

Sources Used in Document:


Brown, R., & Luppi, F. (2010). Domestic Violence and Children. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 1-12.

Carpenter, G. L, & Stacks, A.M.(2009). Developmental effects of exposure to intimate partner violence in early childhood: Are view of the literature. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(8),831-839.

Ehrensaft, M.K., Cohen, P., Brown, J.,Smailes, E., Chen, H., & Johnson, J.G. (2003). Intergenerational transmission of partner violence: A20-year prospective study. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71(4), 741.

Epstein, C. & Keep, G. (1995). What children tell Children about domestic violence. In A. Saunders, C. Epstein, G. Keep & T. Debbonaire (Eds.), It hurts me too: Children's experiences of domestic violence and refuge life. Bristol: WAFE/Child-line/NISW.

Cite This Term Paper:

"Violence And Its Impact On Children" (2015, January 31) Retrieved April 2, 2020, from

"Violence And Its Impact On Children" 31 January 2015. Web.2 April. 2020. <>

"Violence And Its Impact On Children", 31 January 2015, Accessed.2 April. 2020,