The Effect of Domestic Violence on Children

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Studies indicate that 30-43% of children in the United States have witnessed some form of physical violence between their parents. This violence can have a profound effect on preschoolers cognitive and emotional development. Studies suggest that younger children may be more vulnerable to the effects of witnessing domestic violence than older children (Johnson and Lieberman, 2011) so it is very disturbing to recognize that young children are more likely to witness incidents of violence than older children (Ybarra, Wilkens, & Lieberman, 2011). Witnessing these acts of violence has a detrimental effect on the cognitive development as well as emotion regulation and internalizing and externalizing behaviors in preschoolers (Lieberman, 2011; Ybarra, Wilkens, & Lieberman). Studies show that dysfunctional development can be deterred through a positive relationship with mother and child, and that resilience is possible if a nurturing relationship exists in which the mother is attuned to her child’s emotions.

Having at least one parent who enacts in physical violence, psychological aggression, or high levels of other conflictual behaviors toward their adult partner has a positive correlate to child behavior difficulties and young children are severely impacted by violence within their families (Ybarra, Wilkens, & Lieberman). One of the major setbacks experienced by preschoolers who witness domestic violence is their impaired verbal ability. Three to five year old children exposed to domestic violence display lower verbal abilities than their non-exposed peers. There is a 4% variation on young children’s IQ when they are exposed to domestic violence which calculates to an average reduction of eight points. This IQ setback fo...

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