Exposure to Domestic Violence

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While partner violence is often called an "unseen crime" because it usually occurs within the privacy of the home, these acts are often witnessed by children who live in the home. This exposure is particularly impactful because of the importance of the family relationship to a child's development.

While research into child witnesses of partner violence is in its beginning stages, a great deal is now recognized. The clear message is that practitioners need to make concern about children a primary aspect of partner violence interventions. CCRC researchers have identified implications of this finding, including the following:

  • Questions about possible exposure to parental or partner violence should be asked of all children being assessed or treated for other problems of a mental health, academic, or social nature.
  • All children exposed to parental or partner violence should be given a detailed assessment to determine the nature and impact of their exposure.
  • All children involved in partner violence crisis situations should have a professional working with them independently who is able to assess them and act on their behalf.

CCRC researchers are currently engaged in the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. This study is designed to document the incidence and prevalence of children's exposure to violence, with special emphasis on exposure to domestic and community violence. This study is expected to shed more light on this emerging field of study.

Source: Janis Wolak & David Finkelhor (1998). Effects of Partner Violence on Children. In J.L. Jasinski, & L.M. Williams (Eds.), Partner violence: A comprehensive review of 20 years of research. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.