The Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children

1524 words - 6 pages

How does domestic violence between parents and parental figures affect the children who witness it? This is a question often asked by Sociologists and Psychologists alike. There have been studies that prove that children who witness domestic inter-parental violence experience mental health problems, issues with gender roles, substance abuse, the committing of crimes and suicide/suicide attempts later in their lives. This paper will explore all five of these 'effects' of domestic violence on children and show that there is evidence of a clear relationship in which increasing parental violence is associated with increasing outcome risks (Fergusson & Horwood, 1998, p.8).

When a child witnesses domestic abuse it can have many different effects on the child. From my research I found that one of the most common effects on the child were mental health problems. In one study, conducted in New Zealand, young people that reported high levels of exposure to inter-parental violence had elevated rates of mental health problems (Fergusson & Horwood, 1998, p.1). Some of the least severe mental health problems included anxiety, inability to focus, and nightmares (Brescoll & Graham-Bermann, 2000, p.2). But these problems, which appear to be less severe, can also be the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Brescoll & Graham-Bermann, 2000, p.2). In a study conducted in 2001 the results indicated that higher levels of symptoms indicative of post traumatic stress were associated with children who have witnessed domestic violence (Hill & Nabors & Reynolds & Wallace & Weist, 2001, p.1). ?Children who have witnessed domestic violence are more likely to develop symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; that is, high levels of anxiety, in ability to focus attention, nightmares, exaggerated startle responses, and excessive worries related to the violence? (Brescoll & Graham-Bermann, 2000, p.2). Another mental health problem that children who have witnessed domestic violence experience is adjustment problems. There appears to be a wide spread belief that children who witness violence between their parents are at a greater risk of later adjustment difficulties that may include behavior problems (Fergusson & Horwood, 1998, p.3). Young people reporting high levels of exposure to inter-parental violence had elevated rates of adjustment problems by age eighteen (Fergusson & Horwood, 1998, p.1). It is suggested that there are elevated rates of behavioral, emotional, and other problems in children exposed to inter-parental violence (Fergusson & Horwood, 1998, p.3). There seems little doubt that children reared in homes characterized by inter-parental violence were at greater risk of later adjustment difficulties as young adults (Fergusson & Horwood, 1998, p.11). It is quite apparent that there is a link between the witnessing of domestic violence and the mental health problems of the children who witness it.

Another common effect on children who...

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