It is extremely important for children who live in violent homes to have a simple safety plan
- Warn children to stay out of the adults' conflicts.
- Make a list of people the children can trust and talk to when they are feeling unsafe (neighbors, teachers, relatives, friends).
- Decide ahead of time on a safe place the children can go when they feel unsafe.
- Teach children how to use police and other emergency phone numbers.
Children and Domestic Violence
- Children who live in a home where battering occurs are likely to experience a variety of negative effects and problems.
- Children may be injured during an incident of violence, may suffer feelings of helplessness, may blame themselves for not preventing the violence or for causing it, and may be abused or neglected themselves.
- Children in violent homes face a dual threat: witnessing traumatic events and the threat of physical assault.
- Children living with domestic violence experience unnaturally high levels of anxiety.
- Children may suffer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (similar to what war veterans suffer) even after a single incident.
- Children exposed to domestic violence often experience difficulties in school.
- Children living in violent homes have more frequent incidents of truancy, theft, insomnia, temper tantrums, and violence toward others than children raised in a non-violent atmosphere.
- Studies indicate that boys exposed to family violence tend to be overly aggressive and disruptive.
- Studies show that girls who are exposed to family violence tend to withdraw and behave more passively than girls not exposed to violence.
- Children who live in abusive homes have a higher risk of juvenile delinquency and substance abuse.
Effects on Children
- death by homicide
- death by suicide
- emotional injuries, such as low self esteem
- aggressive behavior toward others/delinquency
- poor school adjustment (educational and peer adjustment)
- modeling behavior; learned victim/aggressor roles
- runaway episodes
- alcohol/drug experimentation
- early marriage
- continuation of violent behavior in their adult relationships
- expansion of violence into the community
Long-Term Effects on Children
Research has shown that both victims and witnesses of violent acts against family members may identify with the aggressor. They observe that batterers achieve their goals by using violence which may result in the observers' modeling the aggressive behavior themselves. The home becomes a "training ground" for violent interaction patterns. These patterns are then passed from generation to generation creating serious long range problems for the community and the family, problems which extend far beyond the cessation of the immediate violence.
Identification with the batterer is more powerful when the batterer is a role model, as in the case of parents or siblings. Parental aggressive behavior and violence are confusing to the child who receives nurturance, food and warmth from the same person. Children also learn other patterns like; poor coping skills, insecurity, and ineffectual methods of interpersonal interactions.
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