Domestic Violence on Children

Studies have shown time and again that children who are raised in two-parent households tend to fare better developmentally than their peers who live in single-parent homes. Nevertheless, one of the harsh realities of family life for many young people is the amount of domestic violence they experience, including violence directed at them. While the number of children in the United States that live in domestically violence households has declined in recent years, millions of young people continue to live in domestically violent homes. The impact of these abusive homes on children can be severe and can even have life-threatening implications if the violence is allowed to continue unabated. Fortunately, there are some legal steps that spouses and partners can take to protect themselves and their children, but these injunctions are only short-term solutions to a long-term problem. To gain some fresh insights into how children are affected by domestic violence, this paper provides a review of selected online resources, followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Review and Analysis

Although definitions vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the definition of domestic violence used by the State of Florida states that, "Domestic violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member" (Legal definition of domestic violence 2012, p. 2). Clearly, all of these types of behaviors have the potential to cause adverse effects on any family member, but these adverse effects are especially pronounced when young children are involved. For instance, Goode (2012) emphasizes that, "Exposure to violence has a profound effect on children, making them more prone to emotional problems like depression and anxiety and increasing the chances that they will either become victims of violence themselves or commit crimes in later life" (p. 1).

Although there are some indications that the number of children being exposed to domestic violence is declining, the harsh reality is that millions of young people are still subjected domestic violence in ways that are harmful to them. In this regard, Goode (2012) reports that the number of children exposed to domestic violence in 1993 was a staggering 8.7 million, but this number had decreased to 2.8 million by 2010 but the majority of these children (1.6 million) were under the age of 12 years. According to Goode, "The exposure to violent crime was greatest in households headed by an unmarried adult, single-parent households, households with incomes under $15,000 a year and those in urban areas, the report found. Exposure to simple assault was more common than exposure to more serious violent crimes" (2012, p. 3).

A recent report from McGinty (2012) also suggests that the problem of children being exposed to domestic violence remains severe in many parts of the country and the effects on the children involved can be devastating. In this regard, McGinty (2012) reports that in New York City, "In 2011 alone, the Administration for Children's Services, the city's child welfare agency, investigated complaints involving 88,191 children, according to agency figures. Almost 4,000 were removed from their homes" (p. 3). The breakdown of the statistics involved indicates some sobering trends in domestic violence and children. For instance, McGinty notes that, "Forty-eight of the children who died, or about two-thirds of the total, were infants and toddlers. And 15 of the deaths, or 20%, were ruled homicides" (p. 4).

The truly disturbing aspects of this analysis concern the number of reports that had been filed on these families in the past, which should have served as a wake-up call to the city's Administration for Children's Services but which apparently have been overlooked or understudied. According to McGinty, "Fifty-six percent of the families had been the subject of multiple complaints" (2012, p. 4). Indeed, New York City police respond to more than 700 domestic violence calls every day, but Jimenez (2011) emphasizes that,…