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The Effects Of Domestic Violence On Children

On 26 August 2010 by admin

National Child Protection Clearing House

There is now a small, slowly emerging literature on the effects of witnessing violence on children’s psychological development. Initially the literature was limited to clinical descriptions of children’s behavioural and emotional problems elicited primarily from assessment of children in women’s shelters.

These assessments used a standardised checklist which measures internalising problems (depression, somatic or physiological complaints, anxiety and withdrawal) and externalising problems (disobedience, destructiveness and aggression).

Recent studies have improved methodologically by including appropriate comparison groups and additional standardised measures, and by examining a wider range of children’s dysfunctional and adaptive behaviour.

These studies represent beginning efforts to document the effects domestic violence has on children’s behaviour, their cognitive and social problem-solving abilities, as well as their coping and emotional functioning. A discussion of this literature in terms of age, stage of development and gender is outlined below.

  • Infants
  • Toddlers
  • Pre-Schoolers
  • Primary School Age
  • Adolescents