Domestic violence and its effect on children

History of Social Welfare Capella University Ereeka Brooks March 16, 2012 TABLE OF CONTENTS I. ABSTRACT II. INTRODUCTION III. IDENTIFICATION OF THE PROLEM IV. HISTORY OF PROBLEM V. THEORIES REALTED TO PROBLEM VI. POLICIES ADDRESSING PROBLEM VII. SUMMARY VIII. CONCLUSION IX. REFERENCES Abstract Children who live in domestic violence homes are constantly being exposed to verbal and physical abuse, directly or indirectly, it has to account for some form of damage within them.

They generally suffer in silence, but often develop high levels of aggression, anger issues and anxiety, and often become depressed, there is even a potential to develop Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Therefore, it is imperative that research continue to be conducted in order to further understand how being exposed to domestic violence will affect the child as they develop into adults. Introduction There is an estimated four million incidences of domestic violence against women that occur each year according to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) in the U. S.

Department of Health and Human Services (2000). The estimated number of children between the ages of 3-17 that have witnessed at least one violent act between their parents is between 3. 3 to nearly 10 million (Fontes, 2000). There are studies that state children exposed to domestic violence directly or indirectly tend to be affected emotionally as well as psychologically, have problems with concentration at school and tend to be involved in relationships centered on domestic violence, as they believe it to be an ordinary part of the relationship due to their experiences (Fontes, 2000).

Identification of Problem One in six American couples has engaged in partner against partner assault and Straus (1992) estimated that 10 million American children are witness to domestic violence in their home each year. The impart of domestic violence towards women has been found to be detrimental to the overall wellbeing and personal growth of women and their children and to negatively influence relationships with extended family, friends, in their workplace and their community (Bosch, 2006).

Wolfe et al (2003) concluded that children who were both abused and exposed to domestic violence had higher levels of emotional and behavior problems. The problems posed by children’s exposure to violence not only affect children’s physical health and safety, but also their psychological adjustment, social relations, and academic achievement. The impact of violence exposure goes beyond emotional and behavioral disorders; it also affects children’s views of the world, themselves, their ideas about the meaning and purpose of life, their expectations for future happiness, and their moral development.

The effects of exposure to violence may be less dependent on the type of exposure and more dependent on the processes and pathways by which exposure affects individual children. History of Problem Child maltreatment is also associated with aberrations in brain development and physical illness (DeBellis et al, 1999; Walker et al, 1999). There is a clear imperative to identify, disseminate, and implement effective psychosocial treatment for maltreated children and their families, and tend to provide these in a timely manner.

It is vital to be able to provide services and programs for those who have been exposed to domestic violence within their homes, especially children. A child’s mind is dramatically impressionable, as a result they can be easily influence to use aggression in order to attain or gain whatever it is they would like at the time they want; for example “It’s okay to hit. ” Therefore, it is imperative that research continue to be conducted in order to further understand how being exposed to domestic violence will affect the child as they develop into adults. Theories related to Problem

Children who are a witness to domestic violence often suffer in silence (Overlien & Hyden, 2009). Domestic violence has a great potential for strong adverse outcomes in children, resulting, among other things, in high levels of aggression, depression, anger and anxiety (Graham-Bermann and Seng, 2005; Johnson et al. , 2002; Knapp, 1998; Wolfe et al. , 2003). There has been research that provides evidence that exposure to domestic violence will increase the risk of behavioral problems (Overlien & Hyden, 2009), the exposed child may begin to hit, yell or even bite.

If a child sees one parent bite the other they may think that this is acceptable behavior and begin biting as well, since human behavior is learned observationally through modeling; from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action (Bandura, 1977). At times minors are aware of the violence that is going on in their home and want to come to the rescue of the victim parent, but are caught up in the violence they can/will become victims or casualties themselves.

Studies have shown that various forms of family violence such as spousal abuse and child abuse frequently occur together (Carden, 1994). Research has identified an association between growing up in a violent family and subsequent involvement in violent adult relationships as either an offender or victim (Kovacs & Tomison, 2003). Children from homes in which domestic violence occurs have a myriad of developmental, physical and psychological difficulties; these children have a 50% greater chance of sustaining physical abuse at the hands of their mother or father figures in the homes where intimate partner violence exists (Sprinkle, 2007).

In a home where there is domestic violence, the abusive parent might use the child as a means of power over the abused parent, “If you don’t do what I want little Timmy is going to get spanked. ” It is the interaction of multiple variables rather than the impact of a single variable, which influences child development. Environmental factors such as age at the time of exposure and parental conflict are found to be associated with lower self-esteem and adjustment difficulties in adults (Schmidtgall et al, 2000). Such exposure s part of a group of harm producing contextual factors that interfere with normal development and lead to unpredictable, but generally negative outcomes in the short and long term (Wolfe et al, 2003). Bowen’s (1974) family system theory states that family members so profoundly affect each other’s thoughts, feelings, and actions that if often seem as if people are living under the same “emotional skin. ” There have been circumstances in which the child who has been exposed to violence within the home begins to treat the abused parent or other family member the same way the abuser does; seeing it as acceptable and justifiable behavior.

Social learning theorists view abusive and aggressive conflict resolution techniques as learned and reinforced, often at the expense of more adaptive ways of resolving conflict (Wall & McKee, 2002). The intent on an ecological perspective is to be able to somewhat control the environment in order to allow the child’s behavior to better. The ecological theory goal is to reduce the effects of the targeted risk factors, nothing that interventions strategies will not affect all risk conditions (Thomlison, 2003).

Studies applied the ecological perspective of general and specific risk and protective factors to understand the multiple influences on child, parent, family, and the broader social context associated with child abuse and neglect (Thomlison, 2003). Victims of domestic violence rely on various human services professionals for an assortment of needs, and those professionals must be prepared to recognize the signs of domestic violence, the needs of the victims and strategies to serve victims effectively (Payne, Carmody, Plichta, Burdin, 2007).

Social workers, including those who work in child protective services , adult protective services, foster care, adoption, family preservation and support and benefit programs, may become involved in domestic violence cases in several ways (Payne, Carmody, Plichta, Burdin, 2007). The first responder in a case of domestic violence is often the child protection services worker. Even though the main function for this worker is to protect the child, they often encounter cases of domestic violence.

They are expected to protect the children from further abuse or intimidation and to ensure that the system’s response does not further traumatize the child (Pellegrin & Wagner, 1990). The child protection and family support systems have tended to overlook children who have been exposed to domestic violence in the mistaken belief that “children are untouched by the chaos happening around them in the home” and a belief that “the absence of physical harm means no real harm had occurred” (Kovacs & Tomison, 2003).

There is a line between the presences of domestic violence and the co-occurrence of child abuse; violence aimed at the mother may overspill to the child, children may be physically injured when they are attempting to intervene or simply hurt in order to terrorize the mother (Buckley, 2007). 60% of mothers that were interviewed for research (Blodgett et al, 2008) purposes reported that their children frequently or occasionally were in the room where the violence occurred.

The home environment can critically jeopardize the developmental progress and personal ability of children (Buckley, 2007). Those that work as adult protection service workers encounter domestic violence cases on a regular basis. Their job is to investigate allegations of abuse, intervene in substantial cases, and help support the victim (Hirsch, 1997), the allegations of abuse come from many different sources such as; the victim, hospitals, witnesses, and social workers (Lachs, 1995; Phillips & Rempusheski, 1986).

Adoption workers often experience cases of domestic violence as well, when they interview a potential family for adoption they have to make sure that the family does not have any past occurrences with domestic violence as well as letting the future parents if the child has a history with domestic violence and what that means for the child regarding behavior and other developmental issues.

The “needy” families often experience forms of dysfunction including domestic violence, that’s when the Family preservation and support workers encounter their cases of domestic violence. Their goal is to help families retain assistance with financial needs as well as food and others as well. Very few children living with domestic violence remain unaffected by the experience (Buckley, 2007).

It is apparent that many parents do not take into consideration the impact that domestic violence (neglect, physical or emotional abuse) has on their children when they are exposed to it. When working with families and children that have been exposed to domestic violence within the home, it is vital to take into consideration the importance and complexity of family, social, and cultural factors in predicting and understand developmental changes and abnormal outcomes (Wolfe et al, 2003).

It is apparent that family environment, both before and after the incident, plays an important role in later child development (Schmidtgall et al, 200). It is also equally important for the child to have a loving and supportive environment, either with friends or family members outside of the home, as this will influence how the child will be able to adapt to different situations and events within their environment.

Family violence knows no skin color, religion, or culture (Barnes, 2001). Family violence can happen in any home regardless of the ethnicity, race, education level, religion, or socio-economic background of the abuser or of the abused. A European-American man is just as likely to be an abuser as an African American man; an upper-middle class mother can be a victim of domestic violence as well as a single mother on welfare.

Root causes of violence, however can often include poverty and unemployment, economic disparity, lack of housing, racism and injustice alcohol and substance abuse and feelings of hopelessness and despair (OWH, 2000). Although anyone from any cultural background can be a victim of domestic violence; women of color, poor women, immigrant women, language minorities, and other marginalized women who are abused struggle more than others to get their voice heard (The National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, 1998).

According to the North American Council for Muslim Women (as cited in Memom, 1998), 10% of Muslim husbands emotionally, physically, and/or sexually abuse their Muslim wives, despite Islamic teaching of justice and compassion. The Islamic culture promises the women in their culture protection against violence and abuse, but the violence is still there. The most common form of abuse among Muslim families is emotional and psychological abuse (Memom, 1998).

Since the Muslim community cannot provide the resources and assistance the Muslim women need they often seek services from outside of their community. The Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence (the Alianza) we formed in March of 1999 to promote understanding, discussion, advocacy, and solutions to domestic violence affecting Latino communities (Barnes, 2001). Latino women often struggle with domestic violence because of their language barrier. There are not many Spanish speaking providers and/or providers that understand their culture.

Symposium Steering Committee (Alianza, 1997) recommended that domestic violence programs in Latino communities should take advantage of the importance of family by promoting programs (education, intervention, and post-conviction programs) with enhanced cultural content. In February of 2000 the U. S. Department of Justice released a report stating that American Indian women experienced a violent crime 50% more than African American males (as cited in Pan, 2000). In 1987 the Pine Ridge Indian reservation decided to no longer ignore the growing epidemic of domestic violence and adopted a Spousal Abuse Code.

The code, one of the strictest in the nation, made it illegal to threaten assault or to assault an intimate partner and mandated arrest with no bond and automatic sentencing (Pan, 2000) Therefore, the cultural issue with domestic violence is not whether it happens within a certain group, but how to understand, intervene, and prevent domestic violence across cultural lines and the domestic violence prevention, education and intervention need to be based within a cultural context (Barnes, 2001) Few individuals that have ever been exposed to domestic violence ever receive formal services; crisis intervention may increase the identification of exposed families and reduces violence and its consequences (Blodgett el al, 2008).

Gerwitz and Edleson (2007) affirmed that protective factors which would be able to assist children cope with having been exposed to domestic violence would be having a good support system, caring adults and positive relationships, positive temperament as well as what the child’s intellectual capacity is. A number of specialized programs have been designed to meet the needs of these children by domestic violence services and agencies that have a child protection or child welfare/family support focus (Kovacs & Tomison, 2003). Small group counseling and other interventions covering a wide variety of topics may be effective in protecting children from negative effects of exposure to violence (Schewe, 2008).

Being able to involve children into support groups as well as having other children their age around them that have been exposed to similar situations would prove to be beneficial to those who are present; as well as allowing them to realize that they are not alone in their experiences and feelings. It would also prove to be helpful to minors attending support groups to be able to vent out any pent up anger and aggression; as sometimes they feel that they are at fault for the abuse that was placed on the victim parent and the abuse they may have received. A simple and effective strategy would be to ask groups of children to brainstorm healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with anger, make up conflict scenarios, and role play nonviolent methods for handling conflict (Wilson et al, 1989).

One of the measures implemented in most western countries to protect children exposed to violence and to minimize the long term effect of such exposure is to remove children at high risk from their homes (Harpez-Rotem et al, 2008). Although this works by keeping the child from continuing to be exposed to domestic violence within the home, they are also kept from the victim parent and placed into a home or homes of various different families at times not even allowing enough stability for the child to develop and stabilize. In order to be able to collect information with respects to how domestic violence has impacted the development of children into adults, it would be imperative to gather this information via affected population. Population information would be able to be provided anonymously via protective services or agency/organization.

The researcher or company that would be collecting the information would be able to conduct a questionnaire via mail or phone, honoring the client’s confidentiality at all times. Male and female young adults would be contacted to participate, as well as members of various states across the United States in order to gain a larger insight to the damaging effects of domestic violence. Being able to collect this data first hand would be able to provide researchers with valuable information to be able to create programs that would be able to assist those who have been involved in domestic violence, as well as possibly being able to decrease the incidence of domestic violence exposure.

The questionnaire would also allow the participant to be able to give suggestions on what they believe would have been a great way to help them get through their difficult times as well as to make comments on various programs that are already being provided or that they have participated in, rating their effectiveness. Possible leadership opportunities that would arise due to the study of domestic violence and how it relates to the development of minors into adults for the individual researcher would be that they would be acknowledged for their research on the subject as well as being able to collaborate with other researchers on similar topics. Being able to link up with other researchers would allow for the creative juices to continue to flow which could lead to a break through within the field of study. This would also bring about a lot of recognition to the organization/agency that the researcher is associated with.

This new found information would allow for the organization/agency to lead and create a high-performing program that would best be able to assist minors that have been exposed to domestic violence in the home and provide them with proper coping mechanisms that would allow for proper human development; physically, psychologically and emotionally. It would be beneficial for those who are participating in the domestic violence program to also participate in research surveys in order to assist with how to improve the program. The organization to which the researcher works with could be designated “headquarters” where all of the research would be conducted.

The breakthrough within the research would possibly allow for increased grant sponsorship to the agency, which would allow for more staff members to be hired and trained in order to help a larger portion of individuals within the community around them. These results would be able to be shared with other organizations and agencies that would be using a similar approach in treating minors/adults that have been exposed to domestic violence. Ethical codes for the conduct of behavior are often presented from a deontological perspective, which portrays ethical principles as absolutes or “black and white” rules, which should prevail under all circumstances (Yick, 2007).

For many topics and situations, the previous statement reins true; diversity and culture, above law, tend to direct individuals in which way to go as well as what is appropriate and what is not. Although, ethics will be perceived, understood, and applied differently in different cultural contexts (Rashad et al, 2004) and not all will share their dominant perspective. Having a broad diversified perspective on domestic violence will assist in understanding how specific cultures tend to cope with the issue of intimate partner violence. Within some cultures, it is completely appropriate to “discipline” your spouse due for different circumstances. The use of violence was justified in certain situations, such as a wife’s unfaithfulness, her nagging, and her refusal to cook or keep the house clean or making fun of her partner (Yick, 2007).

Ethical issues that would arise, would be that domestic violence between couples is unacceptable in many parts of the world and can lead to incarceration. This learner has heard from various women that have been victims of domestic violence that it is something “normal” and don’t see the need to be involved with Children and Family Services. Being able to educate both victim and perpetrator with respects to domestic violence would be essential in order to prevent any future altercations. Other ethical issues that may arise during the study would be receiving written consent to participate in any particular service as well as in the process of divulging information.

The signature represents a full understanding of the nature of the intervention or study and signifies an agreement during a transaction between two parties (Yick, 2007). It is important that while a researcher is collecting important data from individuals, that their personal information is not tied to it; as this can place them in danger as well as possibly embarrass them within their family and friends or can be looked down upon. Aside from these previous possible outcomes due to divulging too much information, the person conducting the study, by law and contract, stated to the participating individual that the information received would be completely confidential.

Highly personal information disclosed can mean that research participants will revisit areas that have been either consciously or unconsciously repressed, all of which can trigger emotional distress (Yick, 2007). A possible way to mitigate potential problems within the study would be to speak to individuals that have participated in a domestic violence program and are willing and open to share their experiences as well as their children. Having the ability to truthfully speak about their experiences while growing up in a home with domestic violence and how this has affected their passage into adulthood. As we live in a country that is rich with cultural diversity, it is important to continue to train professionals working in the social service fields with respects to cultural competence and sensitivity.

It is essential for victims of domestic violence to be treated with respect and dignity in order to create a decent rapport with the client in order to best be able to serve and assist them through their difficult times. Conclusion As some of these researchers have shared, there is not much research and information that is being done on children and the effect that domestic violence has on their development into adults. Taking this into consideration, there must be a bigger push in order to have more research conducted on this grave issue. Some research does state that the majority of families that are exposed to domestic violence form a part of the low socioeconomic standing.

Many families are currently experiencing vast economic hardships and are finding it difficult to support their families, at times finding themselves over the edge and take out their pent up frustration on their spouse and children. This is not to say that the aggressors actions are perfectly justified, they are simply in need of redirecting their feelings and actions on other things in order to attempt to keep harmony within their home. Cultural traditions also tend to influence the actions of individuals to allow the use of domestic violence as a means of expression and control within the family, thus giving their children the wrong impression and negative role models to imitate once they become adults.

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