Consequences Of Domestic Violence On Children

Social Issues
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Domestic violence is becoming a significant topic of research by the day. It is broadly described as any form of violence that occurs within the precinct of a domestic relationship. The fact that this definition leaves out many other related forms of abuse led to the coinage of an even broader term - intimate partner violence. The new term covers all relationships. Children who witness the events have always been the collateral damage of intimate partner feuds. In particular, they suffer almost as much as the actual victims of the violence yet are often ignored in research and even statistics. If anything, the focus has always been on the children who directly face abuse and violence. The most current research as of 2015 by the National Children’s Alliance (n.d.) reveals that approximately 1,670 children succumbed to both abuse and neglect in the U.S. alone, with child advocacy organizations serving over 311,000 victims. On average, it is approximated that over 700,000 children suffer from abuse in America every year (National Children’s Alliance, n.d.). However, even these debilitating figures do not quite capture the situation. They only capture direct victims of abuse and violence, but not those who witness violence daily. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (n.d.), about 10 million people (men and women) in America face domestic violence and abuse every year. Suppose just one child is involved in each of these cases, then the precise figure for children witnessing and perhaps experiencing domestic violence would stand at around 10 million. In case more than one child is involved, the net figures would be staggering and unbelievable if the current ones are not. The following research is seeking to prove that children who witness domestic violence suffer just as much as the actual victims. They bear a range of physical, behavioral, emotional, and social burdens related to these events.

Problem Statement

According to Kimball (2016), government statistics on child victims of domestic violence have to be thoroughly reviewed and confirmed before they are availed to the public. Likewise, a more significant number of these cases go unreported. Since data take time before it is available, the existing statistics are outdated and potentially inaccurate. It would be fruitless working with the existing data to achieve any meaningful end in the struggle to assist children who witness domestic violence. All this while, this population continues to languish, suffering emotionally and socially without any targeted and effective form of help (Callaghan, Alexander, Sixsmith & Fellin, 2015). These negative impacts could cascade down several generations to come (Forke et al., 2019). In particular, these children potentially carry with them the burden of witnessing cases of violence into adulthood because (Katz, 2016), for instance, they never received appropriate counseling and other forms of intervention.

Purpose of the Study

The fact that even national statistics have failed to capture the number of children who witness domestic violence clearly is a demonstration of the fact that this population has been grossly ignored. Similarly, a larger body of research focuses on children who experience domestic violence, that is, the actual victims. As a result, they may not even be the target of intervention programs for victims of domestic violence despite potentially suffering the same consequences. While this study may not provide the actual statistics, it will extensively illuminate the problem as an express and immediate call for action by all the responsible authorities. Furthermore, it will add to the existing body of knowledge and address the research gap.

Research Question and Objectives

Primarily, the following study will inquire: What are the negative impacts on children who witness domestic violence?

While attempting to answer this question, this research will work towards the following objectives:

        i.            To determine and identify all risks (physical, psychological, financial, social, and others) connected to witnessing domestic violence among children.

      ii.            To propose a potential intervention framework replete with a description of methods, which could minimize the identified risks.

    iii.            To assess the effectiveness of the existing interventions and their level of reach.

    iv.            To make child witnesses of domestic violence part of the statistics and a population of concern, seeing as they have been ignored.

Literature Review

Theoretical Basis

The study will be underpinned by two major models, including the theory of social learning and the person-in-environment framework. According to Akers and Jennings (2015), social learning theory hypothesizes that behaviors are majorly learned from people within our environment. It would address the impacts through explaining negative behaviors that children exhibit and how that could be related to them witnessing cases of domestic violence. Some of the behaviors include aggression and defiance. Greene (2017) states that the person-in-environment approach defines how surroundings shape behavior. It looks utterly connected to the previous theory but expands the impacts to the entire environment. Its importance in this research will be in determining how living in an environment of domestic violence affects the children, even if they are not the actual victims of such abuse.

Risks of Witnessing Domestic Violence among Children

Research has extensively explored this area, and a large body of information is available. Howell, Barnes, Miller and Graham-Bermann (2016) state that the risks range from social, emotional development to physiological. Both social and emotional development risks affect individual behaviors and mental wellbeing, while physical development impacts the structural differences in both the body and the brain. It could extend to physical harm as a result of psychological stress initiated by living in an environment featuring constant violence (Callaghan et al., 2015). Children who witness domestic violence often exhibit symptoms such as fearfulness, extreme anger, and hyperactivity (Kimball, 2016). Such children are likely to suffer from sleep problems, poor overall development, acute and chronic depression, eating problems, and even constant withdrawal (Holt, 2015; Howell et al., 2016). When witnessed at a younger age, these impacts stick with the children through all their stages of development unless detected and managed (Forke et al., 2019). Since they are likely to be violent, it suffices to say that they may carry it through their generations because their children will suffer the same impacts, and the problem continues down the posterities (Kimball, 2016; Forke et al., 2019).

Existing Interventions and Effectiveness

Lieberman, Ippen and Dimmler (2018) examined the Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) model suitable for children and the youth. The trauma-based intervention sought to alleviate emotional and behavioral issues among children with past experiences of domestic violence. The six-month treatment was determined to be highly successful. However, it was not replicated among children of other ages to determine complete holistic effectiveness. Katz (2016) noted that most interventions focus primarily on the emotions and physical wellbeing of these children and have been proven successful over the years. Yet, these interventions have failed in completely managing the situation because of the lack of statistics and reporting of most of the cases. As a result, there is a need to focus on methods that encourage reporting of domestic violence cases with a view to rescuing and assisting children victims.

Research Methodology

The following study will employ a qualitative research methodology. A descriptive design would help in understanding the impacts of witnessing domestic violence through the views of children, parents, teachers, and medical practitioners. Interviews and semi-structured questionnaires will be used for data collection. The instruments will include recording equipment for the interviews and questionnaires for written responses.

The research will employ a selective sampling method. Since the study is meant to provide a broad base of knowledge on this subject, participants will include children between 3 and 18 years of age, some parents, teachers, and psychologists. Getting perspectives from these various factions will help with a holistic understanding of the topic, both from first-hand experience encounters and expert views. The children must have witnessed domestic violence for over one year, and the psychologists must have been exposed to such patients for more than three years. Participants will be recruited by email, on social media, and even one-on-one by vesting various institutions where teachers and psychologists are found.

Data Analysis

Qualitative data analysis methods will be used in this study. The two principal approaches to be employed include content and inferential analysis. Content analysis applies to documented information and responses in the form of texts and media. It is the most relevant and will apply to data both in the questionnaires and the interview recordings. Inferential analysis, on the other hand, will help in finding similar conclusions from the different participants of the study.

Limitations of the Research

The potential limitations of this research include bias because of the selective sampling method and inferential analysis. Inferences depend on the researchers; thus, they may reflect their opinions and views and not the exact responses given by the participants. Similarly, the fact that participants are free to express their views and experiences exposes this research a possible misrepresentation of facts from misleading subjects.

Consent Form

The form below will be used to get the consent of the respondents.

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GradShark (2023). Consequences of Domestic Violence on Children . GradShark.

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