October 20, 2013
Domestic Violence in Children
The phrase “domestic violence” typically refers to violence between adult intimate partners. It has been estimated that every year there are about 3.3 to 10 million children exposed to domestic violence in the confines of their own home (Moylan, Herrenkohl, Sousa et al. 2009). According to research conducted by John W. Fantuzzo and Wanda K. Mohr(1999): “exposure to domestic violence can include watching or hearing the violent events, direct involvement (for example, trying to intervene or calling the police), or experiencing the aftermath (for example, seeing bruises or observing maternal depression)” ...view middle of the document...
“Exposure to family and community violence is linked with aggressive behavior. One of the theoretical perspectives that explains this link is social learning theory, according to which children learn from the aggressive models in their environments. Additionally, victimization may compromise children's ability to regulate their emotions, and as a result they may act out aggressively” (Margolin &ump; Gordis 2004, 153). “Posttraumatic stress symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are important consequences of exposure to violence because they can impair social and behavioral functioning” (Margolin &ump; Gordis 2004, 153). Research has shown that children exposed to domestic violence demonstrate impaired ability to concentrate, difficulty with schoolwork, and significantly lower scores when their verbal, motor, and cognitive skills were being tested (Fantuzzo &ump; Mohr). It seems as if the academic and cognitive difficulties from exposure affect the child possibly through its impact on psychological functioning. For example, PTSD and depression may hinder with learning and the ability to perform well in the classroom (Margolin &ump; Gordis 2004).
Researchers have found a positive correlation between externalizing (aggression) and internalizing (lowered self esteem, depression, anxiety) and domestic violence exposed children. Children exposed to domestic violence have been found to be four times more likely to develop internalizing or externalizing behavior problems than children who are not exposed to violence. The disruption of the development of basic competencies harms the child’s ability to manage emotions effectively and increases internalizing and externalizing behaviors (Martinez-Torteya et. al., 2009). This is particularly problematic for preschool aged children as younger children display more intense externalizing and internalizing behavioral responses to...