Domestic violence has always been seen to have a negative impact on society. However, only fairly recently has a youth witnessing or being exposed to these modes of sustained violence, whether psychological or physical, been recognized by Australia and international countries as a form of child abuse [ (Parliment of Australia, Research Publications, 2010, Nov 22) ]. It seems that with recognition of this as a form of abuse it has become a more prominent issue in our contemporary society, and as a consequence the increase in studies surrounding the effects of this abuse on the child in both current and future ventures has ensued. Hence, as our desire for a greater understanding of child abuse and its relationship with youth has increased and become prominent, it has now developed into one of the many prominent social problems of today.
One of the issues surrounding these youth are the “deviant culture” perceived by the media giving way to a stigmatized vision of the young and reckless (Deviant youth in the news: a critical discourse analysis of media and participant social constructions of a contemporary moral panic, 2011). Through out this essay the effects of this abuse will be researched in relation to these delinquent behaviors, as it seems that the older generations appear to have forgotten that it is them who educated the adolescence of today to hold the morals and social standards that are apparent in the youth culture of our society.
Child abuse can be seen as a social problem as it has adverse effects on communities and members of the community. At a personal level it increases the risk of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and can be associated with mental issues, social withdrawal, substance abuse and educational and employment deficiencies amongst youth and into later life (Parliment of Australia, Research Publications, 2010, Nov 22). This in turn creates a discontent in the community as members struggle to adhere to social norms and services are under pressure to meet the complex needs of these youth.
Almeida & Durkin describe domestic violence as
“the patterned and repeated use of coercive and controlling behavior to limit, direct, and shape a partner’s thoughts, feelings and actions. An array of power and control tactics is used along a continuum in concert with one another.” (Children, young people and domestic violence, Australian Domestic and Family Violence Issues, 2000).
Research has found that sustained violent acts witnessed by a child constitutes as a form of child abuse as it constitutes both emotional and psychological abuse. The estimates for children being a witness to theses acts of violence vary, however studies done by the Australian Bureau of Statistics established that 27% of children who had a caregiver that was the receiver of domestic violence acts by a current partner had witnessed some or most of the episodes, and the International Violence Against Women Survey has found that over one third reported that children in their care had witnessed domestic violence incident (Parliment of Australia, Research Publications, 2010, Nov 22).
More alarmingly research done on the Gold Coast states that the rates of children witnessing domestic violence is more probable to occur between the 85-90% range with the rate of the children themselves becoming victims around 50% (Domestic Violence and it’s impact on Children’s Development, 2002, Sep 24).
To explain the lasting effects of this violence on a child’s development into a socially and culturally literate person, I will be applying the theory of symbolic interactionism with a special focus on the labeling theory put forward by Howard Becker. Symbolic interactionism is based on the idea that symbols, such as gestures, speech and body language our way of influencing people, and it then looks at the way in which these interactions impact our society.