Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

The effects of domestic violence on children and how they could be protected

2. Chapter 1

1.1 Introduction

This thesis highlights the instances of domestic violence at home and its effects on children. The social, psychological, physical and emotional impact of domestic violence could be studied from a broad perspective although domestic violence has a significant effect on children and especially in their psychological development and the way they react to their social world at a later stage of life. The thesis discusses how children could be protected from domestic violence and what are the measures that the government or social organizations could take to control or stop domestic violence. The description of domestic violence in all dimensions is followed by an analysis of the different types of domestic violence and who are the people affected by domestic violence or how domestic violence could have an impact on the children. The long term and short term influences of domestic violence are studied after a careful analysis of research papers.

3. Chapter 2

2.1 Background

Domestic violence is threatening behavior or some sort of violence or abuse between adults who are or were in relationships as also violence between family members and could affect anyone irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity or sexuality. Domestic violence could be psychological or physical, sexual or emotional or even financial. It could range from forced marriage and genital mutilation to physical abuse and assault. Domestic violence usually takes place within intimate family type relationships and could form a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior in which one family member of partner tries to control the other family members or partner. Domestic violence can mean a range of behaviors and some may not be typically violent and could fall under domestic abuse. Research has indicated that one in four women face domestic violence in their lifetime and usually happens when the abuser has a desire for power and control over their partner. Domestic violence can be life threatening and could be harmful to the lives of men and women if their partners are engaged in repetitive violence.

Domestic violence is mainly carried out by men and experienced by women although it could be the other way round and there could be repeated physical or sexual assaults and this could result in injury or death. It has been projected that men could be violent towards their partners or might face violence although women get violent as an attempt towards self defence as they try to move out of controlling behavior. Domestic violence has a direct adverse effect on the children in a family and more than 75% children are considered at risk when they have abusive parents in their family. Children are also sometimes abused by the family member.

Domestic violence exists within all kinds of relationships and in some cases older children could get violent or abusive towards their parents and so the equation between the parent and child could be abusive both ways and in either case there are possibilities of domestic violence. Some common factors have been identified in defining the experiences of abusive relationships and identifying these factors could help in preventing the abuse.

Domestic violence could take many forms of destructive criticism and verbal abuse as in threatening, mocking, abusing and name calling. Abusers also use pressure tactics and could give threats or could break trust by being in other relationships or withhold information, show disrespect or could subject their victim to isolation and harassment. Physical and sexual violence are the usual forms of domestic violence although verbal attacks are most common.

Domestic violence could affect anyone regardless of age, gender or social background or ethnicity and it could happen at any stage of a relationship and incidents of domestic violence could become increasingly severe over time. Domestic abuse is a result of the desire for power or control and could directly cause or be caused by individual experiences. The responses of society are contributory factors in domestic violence although men can easily get away with it. Domestic violence would have direct impact on children and there could be both long term and short term impact on children. Developmental perspectives could consider direct or indirect abuse effects on infants and adolescents, school age children and teenagers. The next part of the review highlights domestic violence and its impact on children as noted in literature review and research studies.

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

2.2 Developmental Perspective

2.3 Short and Long term impact

2.4 Impact of intimate partner abuse on Children

The developmental perspectives of domestic violence could be studied by measuring the impact of violence on children, infants, toddlers, adolescents and teenagers and would also suggest how the impact differs in each case. The short and long term impact of domestic violence could also be analyzed and in case of children the long term effects are usually mental illness or psychological problems, chronic health problems and in some cases poverty and homelessness.

Developmental Perspectives

Kennedy et al (2010) studied the clinical and adaptive features of juvenile offenders who were violent towards their parents and compared this with children who had no history of violence against their parents and the groups were compared on mental health issues, relation ship findings and intellectual abilities. Children who face domestic abuse are more likely to show gang behaviors and could have trouble relating to parents and other members. There were no significant differences noted in emotional symptoms and in personal adjustments.

In the context of domestic violence, Lapierre (2010) studied mothering and women’s experience of mothering and how this was related to domestic violence. There seems to be a lack of research on women’s experiences in mothering in the context of domestic violence and this study highlights the difficulties that abused women face during mothering. The author argued that motherhood itself could pose a challenge as difficulties of interaction arise within broader situations. Women have at the same time increased responsibilities to motherhood and loss of control over their children and therefore this would be a major challenge. Mothers are required to be vocal about their concerns as intimate partner violence faced by mothers would affect not just them but also the well being of their children ho may be exposed to the violence and its after effects (Rhodes et al, 2010). In a study with 39 adult women, mothers raised concerns on the negative effects of partner violence on their children.

In discussions on the barriers to prevent violence and abuse by partners, the victims expressed their conflicts and how children could facilitate and inhibit leaving of an abusive relationship as the mothers could worry that children will be adversely affected if they remain in a violent family but could also be affected if they stay away from a family environment. This suggests that victims with children were always very conflicted as children could both facilitate and inhibit leaving relationships that are abusive. Mothers are thus in conflict as to whether they should spare their children from harmful effects of violence and leave or whether they should spare their children from any instability caused by separation or divorce. The mothers also suggested that fear of involvement of child protection services prevented them from seeking help with social service agencies. Social service agencies will have to understand the conflicts faced by mothers and should be able to help them.

There could be individual differences and personality patterns that would suggest why some children show unstable behavior when exposed to domestic violence and why some other children are more resilient (Howell, et al 2010). Resilience was characterised by emotional regulation and prosocial skills, and was studied by a research group who observed mothers and their 4 to 6 year old children. The study suggested that better parenting, fewer maternal mental health problems and less severe exposure to violence could predict better emotional regulation and prosocial skills and this was negatively correlated with maladaptive child behaviors. Gardner noted the experience of children who live in families affected by domestic violence and collected information on children who continued to remain in parental home after child maltreatment (Gardner et al, 2009). There is a high policy oriented interest in domestic violence and is an important aspect of child mal treatment concerns. There are however several challenges inherent in the interaction of domestic violence and this could affect outcomes of how children are treated by family members and social service agencies.

Short Term and Long Term consequences of domestic violence

Domestic violence now has greater recognition in public policies in the United Kingdom. Devaney (2009) suggests that more than 1 million children may have been exposed to domestic violence that are perpetrated by adults family members. This sort of violence could have short term and long term consequences and could affect the social and emotional adjustment of the children. As male perpetrators of domestic violence are not held to account, the children will have to be given special care and protection by social services. It is however suggested that it is the women’ s responsibility to protect their child from any harm and this is done when they either leave or force their partner to leave. Devaney suggests that the women of the household are held responsible for having to protect their children and typically they are expected to leave or force their partners to leave and women are also responsible for making men realize their responsibilities as father and also by making them accountable for their behavior.

External environment, the causes and immediate correlates of psychological problems in children are considered although Carrell and Hoekstra (2010) suggested that measuring data could have its methodological limitations. However the authors tried to correlate children’s school records with cases of domestic violence to estimate the negative effects of domestic abuse. The results from the study indicated that children from troubled families could have decreasing grades and along with falling grades there is a possibility of misbehavior in the classroom. Achievement scores are however affected by family differences so domestic violence could not be the only factor for determining grades but the family environment is also important.

In many cases when women face domestic violence at home they are asked to stay with their husbands for the children. Although Emery (2009) suggests that the concept of marriage could benefit men, women and children. The relationship between marital stability, husband violence, and children’s behavior problems was studied and the married women who reported husband violence also indicated child behavioural problems although this negative behavior reduced when violence was controlled.

Witnessing, participating or being subject to domestic violence would all have negative consequence and especially adverse consequences for children. There are socio demographic correlates of children who witness domestic violence and this could have an association with mental disorders both as children and as adults (Meltzer et al, 2009). The traumatic effects of experiencing domestic violence were found to be related to biographic, socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics and the report stated that at least 4% of children are regularly subject to domestic abuse. The factors hat could cause greater likelihood of domestic violence would be mixed ethnicity, physical disorder, several children in family, divorced parents, living in rented accommodation, poor neighbourhoods, the mother’s emotional state and family dysfunction. A greater likelihood of the child witnessing domestic violence has been associated with conduct disorder although this was not associated with emotional disorders and there has been an association of domestic violence and emotional disorders so that with witnessing of domestic violence social workers and policy makers could identify the needs of the children who witness domestic violence.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

Young people caught in negative family experiences could be adversely affected by gap in knowledge of issues related to domestic abuse (Templeton et al 2009). Young people sometimes create the circumstances they live in and in the study by Templeton 8 young people were interviewed from five families (Templeton et al 2009). It has been suggested that research in which the opinion of young people are taken directly would be needed and in this case data from five families helped understand the lives of young people who lived with parental alcohol misuse and violence. Links have been found between parental drinking and domestic abuse with verbal aggression and physical violence. The young people noted a range of strategies in which they tried to cope with their home environments and one of the ways they received support was from friends, family and other professionals. The practice and policy responses for children living in family environments will have to be changed significantly.

It has been suggested that intimate partner violence is not just a distinct and unitary phenomenon and could be differentiated according to partner dynamics, context and consequences and the four patterns of violence described are coercive controlling violence, violent resistance, situational couple violence and separated instigated violence (Kelly et al, 2008). Gender symmetry and asymmetry in intimate partner violence could be studied although there would be methodological limitations. Differentiation in the different types of domestic violence would be possible with procedures as explained in family, criminal courts with characteristics of different types of partner violence. Parenting plans tend to ensure outcomes for children and parent child relationships. Spilsbury et al (2008) discussed adjustment problems in community program samples with the school children being exposed to domestic violence. Children with internalizing and externalizing problems are the majority in domestic violence cases although children could also have externalizing problem without internalizing problem. However there are a small group of children with internalizing problems only. The demographic and violence characteristics showed that profiles of domestic violence and children affected by it could differ by child gender, mother’s education, children’s lifetime exposure to violence and contacts with community programs (Spilsbury et al, 2008).

When children are exposed to domestic violence the focus becomes child neglect according to jurisdictions and D’Ambrosio (2008) suggests that not all domestic violence is the same and not all families are affected with domestic violence issues. The several factors of domestic violence could be the frequency and intensity of violence, the frequency and intensity of child’s exposure to violence, the family member’s unique experiences and characteristics. The parents’ who participate in counselling services help in the promotion of health and safety of their children and also support removal of children from any exposure to domestic violence. Child protection agencies examines domestic violence and also helps in mitigating the effects of child’s exposure to domestic violence and in some cases could provide an opinion for or against removal of children from homes exposed to domestic violence.

In advanced welfare states, the abuse of mothers by their adolescent male children has been found to be prevalent (Hunter et al, 2010). However as Hunter el al claim, mother to child abuse remains a very under researched form of family and domestic violence and not much is studied about child to parent violence and usually it is the other way round. There are issues of stigma or shame when children are violent with their parents and studies on this usually focus on the interventions that could deal with anti social behavior and adolescent violence towards mothers is a prevalent issue. This brings in the different disciplines of youth justice, child welfare and domestic violence into focus and the behavior of children and young people towards their mother could highlight issues of responsibility. However there is also a failure of service providers to respond to such destructive forms of intimate interpersonal violence.

In another study that showed resilience among children who were exposed to domestic violence, mother-child dyads were examined when the children were 2-4 years of age. The study suggested that the young children who were exposed to domestic violence were more likely than the other group who were not exposed to domestic violence to show symptoms of internalizing and externalizing problems (Martinez-Torteya, 2009). However among the children who were exposed to domestic violence, 54% showed positive adaptation and non depressed mothers and thus greater resilience when compared with their non resilient counterparts. Domestic violence on a prolonged basis was associated with maternal depression, difficult child temperament and internalizing or externalizing symptoms. Heterogeneous outcomes among children exposed to domestic violence would involve influence on children’s adaptation.

The perspectives of individuals and their relationships with each other and their lives and identity have been examined by Castelino (2009) and the focus was on family violence intervention programs. The study was on men’s behavior change as they worked closely with their partners or children for their own safety. Within this organizational context, the children’s experiences at home with domestic violence have not been explored and although there is a framework for engaging in therapeutic work, the context of family violence tends to highlight work exploring safety and well being along with the complexity of family environment. The children’s experiences in domestic violence situations have been considered as significantly important. Berrick (2009) has argued that child welfare in the US is in a state of crisis and intense family problems such as drug addiction, domestic violence and criminal behavior bring greater problems to child behavior. When children are however removed from their homes they could be in a state of impermanence or transience without being in a stable family. Children’s well being and health should not be compromised in extended family relationships and the government’s role is important in defining the vulnerability of children’s lives. Children are prevented from ill-treating their parents and this is done by placing them with carers also as Berrick argues these carers may not meet the qualifications for providing adequate care. However the primary mission of children would be an emphasis on protecting children who have been harmed by parents.

The impact of exposure to domestic violence could be studied in terms of effects on health and well being of children and young people and Holt (2008) studied the impact of domestic violence across separate and interrelated domains as in domestic violence exposure and child abuse, impact on parental capacity, impact on child and adolescent development and exposure to additional adversities (Holt, 2008). The practices that would best suit children’s needs have also been highlighted. Holt’s study used databases through an 11 year framework and the results suggested that children and adolescents living with domestic violence could face increased risks of emotional and behavioural problems and could experience physical and sexual abuse with the presence of adverse conditions at home.

The protective factors that could possibly reduce the impact of domestic violence on children would a strong and supportive relationship with one parent and in most cases it is the mother who provides support to children who may be facing emotional problems although in some cases the children are best removed from the home and given separate shelters by the social service providers.

Children and young people are affected emotionally and behaviourally when they face domestic violence and the effects could be long term and would continue to ensure safety of the children. Children also construct their own social world and timely and individualized personalized responses have been considered as more appropriate. Timely and appropriate individually tailored responses to build resilience in the child’s life could mean significant implications for responses.

The relationship between domestic violence and different forms of child abuse show that exposure to domestic abuse could have different levels of impact on children and some children are more vulnerable than others and there could be potentially very harmful emotional, behavioural and physical effects in such children. The protective factors that could influence impact of exposure and outcomes for the child would suggest the need for a holistic child centred approach to service delivery and for this there is a need to focus on the assessment as well as the need to understand the individual child’s experience and how it would be necessary to be responsive to the child’s individual needs.

Chang et al (2008) studied the association of partner psychological abuse and child maltreatment after using a sample of mothers with children aged 0-17 years and the mothers were asked about the occurrence of neglectful or abusive behaviors towards their children or abusive behavior by their husbands and partners. Outcome measures for abuse could range from no abuse to mother as perpetrator, father as perpetrator, to both parents as perpetrators. The results indicated that children were at greater risk of maltreatment when parents psychologically abused each other although some factors which affected children were mother’s level of education, child age and gender. When the father of the family abuses the mother, the impact on children is greater than when there is no psychological abuse. Partner psychological abuse is thus strongly related to maltreatment of the children and an increased risk of maltreatment was found with partner psychological abuse. Prevention of abuse is only possible with education about the serious impact of partner violence. Domestic violence and child welfare agencies should be aware of the link between partner psychological abuse and child maltreatment (Chang et al, 2008) and work towards identifying and alleviation of these problems.

How professionals protect children from domestic violence.

2.5 Different services or interventions that can protect children

Several social work and social service agencies are responsible for taking care of children especially children who are abused and the different interventions that can protect children from domestic violence highlight not just the complexities of social work practice but also child behavior.

In a study by Healey and Darlington (2009), it was suggested that participation of children and parents in child protection service could be complex and sensitive in social work practice as children and parents would have different issues in child protection cases and could voice varied concerns. In most cases participation would be separate and distinct. Child protection policies are closely associated with prevention of domestic abuse and promoting direct participation of children is a sensitive issue in social work practice. The child protection legislation policies promote ideals of service user participation although the principles and methods of achieving participatory practices in child protection will have to be elaborated and identified. However as Healey (2009) claim, the methods for participating in child protection services are not well developed. Child protection could refer to child and family welfare services and the prevention of child abuse, including through domestic abuse and possible neglect and the social service agencies seem to have a responsibility in protection of children in all contexts . The services included in child protection are family support, domestic violence, statutory child protection, child and family advocacy services and a participatory practice in child protection. A qualitative analysis of interviews with child protection services show five domains of child protection work and core principles of participatory practice as given by Healey et al, (2009).

The potential of social workers to shift from child protection to child welfare practice would show how social workers respond to child care problems (CCPs). Hayes and Spratt (2009) examined the potential of social workers from child protection to child welfare practice orientation and related child care problems. Social service trusts have usually responded to social policy goals to balance the protection of children and meeting welfare needs through reducing child protection investigations. Social workers tend to address perceived child protection risks and tend to balance social policing and supportive functions in practice as given in Every Child Matters (Chief Secretary to the Treasury, 2003)

Ferguson (2009) highlighted the core experience of doing social work and the emotions and challenges of accessing children in social services. The methodology of child protection suggests that home visit is ignored and the emphasis is on policy and practice texts that happens in inter agency collaboration. The primary problem in contemporary child protection services for social workers would be the process of meaningfully engage with children. The practice through sociology and psychodynamic social work theory provides an understanding of social work experience. The concept of containment suggest ways in which practitioners could provide child protection for the benefit of children and other service users.

2.6 Barriers to services- and how children can overcome that.

Services and interventions that can protect children include social work child protection services, and some of the barriers to service in child protection would be lack or shortage of resources and lack of understanding how child protection works. Barriers to service could also be about lack of cooperation and the children could overcome the barriers by actively cooperating with the social services and the parents and children should be able work together to cooperate in child protection issues. All risks will have to be identified and the children and parents and other relevant service users will have to ensure that social services agencies are able to provide the right kind of protection to the children. If the children have problems with custody or staying at a place with high levels of domestic violence, the social services may well take legal help to have them relocated to other shelters which would be safer for the children if the home environment is not safe enough.

4- Chapter 3

3.1 Limitation or findings- Critiquing the researchers about good and bad on their findings according to their aims.

5. Chapter 4

4.1 Discussion

4.2 Conclusion


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