How Domestic Violence Affects Children
It has been well documented that children exposed to domestic violence suffer many forms of trauma, particularly children who witness violence inflicted by one parent on the other parent. To begin, Domestic Violence is typically not about one incident of actual violence but a sustained pattern of abusive behaviors and attitudes that may escalate over time. Threatening words and gestures become part of a pervasive atmosphere of fear. The intimidation is frequently life threatening. (Groves 2006) It is called domestic because it involves a family, a home or household, or a partner. It could be any member of the family or household that is practicing the violent behavior. Either way, the children involved will be extremely affected. It is widely assumed that if a child is very young they will not remember any violence they experienced at this age. It is believed that time will erase the memories, if the child is under a certain age. This is the reason that in the past most of the research done about domestic violence and juveniles refer to older children. However, in research done in the past few years, infants and toddlers have shown signs that they are affected by being exposed to violence as much as older children. Violence knows no class, ethnic, race, age, or geographic boundaries so it does not discriminate against which child it will affect. (Groves, 2006) Furthermore, juveniles in violent homes have been called the “forgotten,” “unacknowledged,” “hidden,” “unintended,” and “silent” victims. They have received insufficient attention for far too long. There is a growing recognition that living with or growing up in an atmosphere of domestic violence can have detrimental effects on the juveniles concerned. Said juveniles will exhibit more adjustment difficulties’ than juveniles from non-violent homes. (Radford, 2008) Domestic Violence can affect development and lead to emotional, social, physical, behavioral problems, and criminal conduct in the juveniles exposed. Now to take a closer look at how Domestic Violence may affect children in each of the aforementioned areas, how the community and police are involved, and conclude with some ideas on how to help repair the damage done. First we will start with physical problems that can arise in children from exposure to domestic violence. Physical problems caused by Domestic Violence can start as early as birth with some juveniles. One might ask, “How could that be possible?” Well it is possible if a woman is being battered while she is pregnant. These attacks represent a form of ‘double intentioned violence’ as they incorporate both acts of woman abuse and child abuse. (Kelly, 1994) The abuse could cause developmental problems with the fetus. The baby could be born with birth defects or distress due to abuse. Domestic Violence is a risk factor for preterm delivery and low birth weight in infants. (Fernandez & Krueger, 1999) There are a plethora of issues that can come from having a baby prematurely, including low birth weight, underdeveloped organs, and death. At the same time, infants, toddlers and adolescents can also develop physical problems from domestic violence. Some children cope with their circumstances by not eating or over eating. This can cause major issues with their physical health. For example, the child could develop Juvenile Diabetes or they could begin to suffer from malnutrition. It is also possible that these juveniles may turn to hurting themselves or participating in dangerous play. An example of this would be playing with knives or matches and/or cutting or burning themselves. Doing these things could be an outlet the juvenile uses to cope. Self mutilation is a growing trend among trouble kids. There are more and more cases developing every day. (Fowler and Hilsenroth, 1999) Another angle to look at, concerning the physical problems with juveniles exposed to domestic...
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