Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

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Domestic Violence and Child abuse

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Social Work 311: Child Abuse and Neglect
M. Guarino


Domestic violence and child abuse have a tendency to go hand in hand. In the past, people overlooked the fact that in most households where domestic violence kids present, child abuse and neglect also occurs. An improvement in the collaboration between child protection and domestic violence services is vital for workers to identify, interdict, and resolve the issues related to abuse in all forms. Cross training and interagency cooperation will greatly reduce abuse and increase the efficiency in which help is administered.

SWK 311

Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

Some parents abuse their kids because they have an alcohol or drug problem, or they have an extreme temper and they take it out on their kids, some parents abuse their kids because the parents went through something traumatic. Some parents abuse their children because they were abused when they were children, and then, you get some people who are just plain cruel and enjoy abusing children. In most instances domestic violence in the family structure also has an impact on the existence of child abuse. Households that experience some form or another of domestic violence also have higher rates of child abuse/neglect issues. We should recognize that domestic violence can also be associated with child abuse and improve the collaboration between child protection and domestic violence services. Child abuse and neglect in the context of domestic violence can be played out in a variety of ways; the same perpetrator may be abusing both mother and children, probably the most common scenario; the children may be injured when “caught in the crossfire” during incidents of adult domestic violence; children may experience neglect because of the impact of the violence, controlling behaviors and abuse on women’s physical and mental health; or children may be abused by a mother who is herself being abused. Evidence is emerging in cases where both domestic violence and child abuse occur represent the greatest risk to children’s safety (Stanley 1997) and that large numbers of cases in which children are killed have histories of domestic violence(Wilczynski 1996). The man of the family is usually the root cause of the problem, however child protection services has a history of focusing on the mother, despite the fact that men are estimated to be responsible for half of the incidents of physical abuse of children, and the majority of the most serious physical abuse. Most interventions by Child protection have focused on the woman, even when their violent male partners have been known to have committed the abuse of children. This is problematic because this gender bias can result in women being held accountable for “failing to protect” their children from the actions of men who use violence against them and therefore a failure to hold men accountable for the effects of their violence on women and children. An understanding of how domestic abuse effects child abuse is crucial in developing strategies to combat the child abuse problem.

For child protection services to be effective there needs to be an understood collaboration between them and the domestic violence services. Child protection agencies have been slow or failed to recognize the contribution of domestic violence to many situations of child abuse and neglect. Some differences are that child protective services usually deal with involuntary clients, whereas domestic violence service workers deal with people on a voluntary basis. Child protective services deal with women who may be at a very different stage in recognizing and dealing with the violence in their relationships, than women who contact domestic violence services. For a collaboration to be effective, both agencies must understand each other’s work, what it is and what it isn’t. They...
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