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The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children Essay

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Traditional research to ascertain the effects of living with domestic violence on children conducted psychological test to measure children’s competency and development. Development psychologists experimented on children in laboratory settings, if the level of competency demonstrated by a child was below average for their age and stage of development, witnessing domestic violence was deemed to be the cause. To know whether a child has been harmed by their experiences we need to how ‘normal’ children function and develop (Archard 197). But there is no universally agreed timeless norm of children’s health and development. Some psychologists believe domestic violence effects the way that children think and can cause ‘pre-mature’ developmental understanding and ways of thinking. What counts as harm depends on norms of well-being which vary culturally.


Few would disagree that witnessing the assault of their mother is a very disturbing experience for children. However, not all children living with domestic violence witness the direct physical assaults on their mother but they will be acutely aware of the abuse she suffers. Children do not have to directly witness any violence to be profoundly affected by it. There is a wealth of research which has highlighted the negative impact witnessing domestic violence can have on children. Abrahams (1994) found that ninety one per cent of the mothers within her research thought their children had suffered negative effects due to domestic violence. Furthermore, eighty six per cent believed these negative effects continued into adolescence.

Coping mechanisms
Children and young people develop a wide range of active strategies to help them cope with living with violence, which includ...


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...Living with Domestic Violence: putting men’s abuse of women on the child care agenda, London: Whiting and Birch


Mullender, A., Kelly, L., Hague, G., Malos, E. and Imam, U. (2000) Children’s Needs, Coping Strategies and Understandings of Woman Abuse. Coventry, University of Warwick: Department of Social Policy and Social work.


Saunders, A. Epstein, C. and Keep, G. and Debbonaire, T. (1995) It hurts me too: experiences of domestic violence and refuge life. Bristol: WAFE/Childline/NISW.


United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989


Woodhead, M. and Montgomery, H. (Eds) (2003) Understanding childhood: an interdisciplinary approach, Milton Keynes: John Wiley and sons in association with The Open University.


Wyness, M. (2006) Childhood and society: an introduction to the sociology of childhood, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.



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