Annotated Bibliography: Domestic Violence and Its Effects on Children

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Annotated Bibliography: Domestic Violence and its effects on Children

Groves, B.M. (1999). Mental Health Services for Children Who Witness Domestic Violence. The Future of Children, 9(3), 122-132. This article provides a good introduction for practitioners working with children who witness family violence. The article summarizes the effects domestic violence can have on children such as; aggressiveness, depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, and sleep deprivation. The author stresses the importance of proper identification and assessment of children exposed to domestic violence. There are four goals of intervention described in this article: reducing the child’s sense of isolation, helping children to understand their emotional responses to violence, reducing the symptoms that children experience (e.g. nightmares) and working with the family to develop a safe and nurturing environment for the child. Then there are therapeutic approaches such as group therapy which are discussed. The article states that an advantage of group work is that it breaks the child’s sense of isolation and allows children to identify with each other. In conclusion, the article discusses the challenges facing practitioners in this area. The first is addressing the possibility of concurrent child abuse or neglect and the second is meeting the complex emotional needs of the child client and his/her family. Silvern, L. & Kaersvang, L. (1989). The Traumatized Children of Violent Marriages. Child Welfare, 68(4), 421-435. The article presents very specific views of treatment for children who witness family violence. In the introduction, the authors state "This article hypothesizes that traumatization underlies the difficulties these children experience…interventions should be designed to counteract post-traumatic disorders" (p.422). The authors begin by defining the emotions experienced during the traumatic event of witnessing parental violence. These feelings include fear, helplessness and overstimulation. Next, they explain the "traumatic process" (p.424). An important element of this process is mental repetition of the event. Signs of repetition include nightmares and flashbacks. The authors then discuss trauma resolution. They make the important point that children’s trauma must be discussed by direct disclosure in order for them to resolve their issues. Simple play therapy, these authors believe, is not adequate to do this. The authors then present a detailed case report of an eight-year old boy, named Jon, who exhibited violent behavior at school. Jon’s fantasy play was described in detail. Most of it involved viewing himself as a superhero, with four snakes that helped him fight "bad guys". Jon drew a picture of these snakes that resembled human fingers. When this was pointed out by the therapist, Jon was eventually able to talk about (and therefore process and resolve) the time he witnessed his father choke his mother. This therapeutic process for Jon lasted over 14 months and eventually his violent behavior vanished. The authors conclude with the recommendation that practitioners balance symbolic expression play therapy with direct talking. In this way, children can master the experience of witnessing family violence. Anderson, S.A. & Cramer-Benjamin, D.B. (1999). The Impact of Couple Violence on Parenting and Children: An Overview and Clinical Implications. American Journal of Family Therapy, 27(1), 1-19. This is an excellent literature review on the subject of children who witness family violence. The article begins with a summary of theoretical explanations for the negative effects of witnessing family violence. Social Learning Theory, Systems Theory and the Psychiatric Model, based on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, are all discussed. Next, the article presents a summary of research results in four major areas of inquiry. First, the magnitude of the problem is explored. A variety of statistics concerning children’s...
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