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Family violence is a major problem. Violence in the home affects
children in many ways. It can often affect how children do in
school, their relationships, and their emotional development.
Children are hurt simply by seeing or hearing violence in their
homes. Abused or abusive adults are often not able to properly
care for children.
It is any violent behavior between adults in the home. Problem
Family violence often exists along with alcohol or drug abuse.
Usually the victims of violence are women. However, both men and
women can be abusers and both can be victims.
Seeing violence between trusted adults has a greater effect on a
child's development than television and movies ever could.
Witnessing family violence can have an even greater negative
effect than on children than being the victim of abuse themselves.
Even if children do not see it, they may hear it. And even if they
can't hear it, they will always feel the effects of violence in
their home. They may hear about the violence from adults talking
about it. They may see how the violence affects their parents.
They may be caught in the crossfire or victims of violence
themselves. Children in violent homes are at increased risk for
serious physical and sexual abuse.
The way that violence affects children depends, in part, on how
severe the violence is and how often it happens. It also depends
on how well parents are able to love and care for the children.
Being a loving parent is often hard for both the adult victim and
Even infants can sense something is wrong. Babies may have
problems in feeding, play, and other daily activities. They may
get fussier. The fussiness can increase an infant's own risk of
being a target of violence. Child-rearing problems may trigger
violence between adults. For example, arguing about who should
change diapers may lead to a fight.
Older children may imitate the violence they see. Some children
become aggressive, cruel, disobedient, and destructive. Other
children keep their feelings inside. They may become sad, anxious,
fearful, or withdrawn. Violence between adults can also lead to
violence between siblings. Children in violent homes may have poor
impulse control and poor self-esteem. They have a may hard time
getting along with other children and often do not do as well in
Teens from violent homes often take more risks than other teens
and may become violent adults or be victims of violence as adults.
There is only one way to protect children: The violence must stop.
If there is violence in your home, call the National Domestic
Violence Hotline at
1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3244 (TTY), or your child's healthcare
provider's office for help in stopping it. In case of emergency,
call the police or go to the hospital.