|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Child development Mental health Domestic violence Behavior change|
Domestic violence refers to any occurrence of behavior that is threatening, is violent or abusive, between persons above the age of 16, and are either intimately involved or are members of the same family. It could come in the form of intimidation, suicidal threats, and murder, constant arguments involving yelling, etc. Studies have shown that children who are often exposed to violence in their homes struggle emotionally, mentally, and socially. All these have a negative effect on their wholesome growth (Brown and Bzostek, 2003). Some of the effects include; emotional distress, distorted eating and sleeping patterns, difficulty in managing stress, dented self-esteem, anxiety in finding solutions to problems, difficulty in relating positively with others, affected concentration, becoming less empathetic and caring, adopting aggression as a coping mechanism, etc. (Pingley and Terra, 2017). Other than merely witnessing domestic violence, children are often caught up in the midst of it all and end up being physically hurt. This could either happen accidentally or deliberately.
It is generally upsetting and disheartening for a child to witness either of their parents being abused or attacked by the other. While boys may opt to show their hurting more directly by being violent and mimicking the behavior, they witness in the family, and girls tend to be more reserved in their hurting and often withdraw from others (Pingley and Terra, 2017).
Generally, children could show symptoms associated with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. These could involve difficulties in sleeping due to flashbacks and nightmares of the violent incidences. The experiences they encounter back home and the worry thereof, make it hard for them to concentrate while at school (Brown and Bzostek, 2003). Consequently, their grades and performances are greatly affected, and they end up doing badly. Ultimately, they could refuse to go to school or drop out entirely.
Children who've been prone to domestic violence are likely to get involved in the same at a later age. This is because children often mimic the behaviors of their parents or guardians. Boys grow up learning from the male figures in their lives that it is normal to violate women (Pingley and Terra, 2017). Girls, on the other hand, grow up learning from the female personalities in their lives to accept that violence on women is expected.
The consequences of domestic violence exposure to a child's psychology are fear of being abandoned or hurt, to much worry or feeling sad, feeling of guilt from thinking that you could be the cause of the violence, being unable to show empathy or sympathy, constant lying, being unable to tolerate frustrations, creating distance emotionally, feeling of shame and uncertainty regarding the future (Brown and Bzostek, 2003).
Attention, emotions, and memories that get ingrained in a child's mind while they are under stress are always linked to each other and could directly ruin a lot of aspects in their lives. These aspects include what they feel, the beliefs they have, the choices they make with regards to relationships, etc. Aptly put, they are not just bystanders but turn out to be victims of this domestic violence.
Children who stay within such environments of destabilized emotions and aggressive behaviors often have neurophysiological muddles distorted. This means that their feelings of pain are isolated and never met with their affection and attachment needs. Parents or guardians who propel domestic violence are barely involved in their child's upbringing. Also, they tend to use extreme and severe methods when punishing their children. Both parents contribute directly to how their children respond to them emotionally (Rutter & Taylor, 2008). Instead, their children gradually become unable to identify with danger or the intrusion of stress and end up being negatively-resilient.
When children who have been victims of domestic violence are compared to other children who have been brought up in healthier environments, there is a major disparity in the following aspects; learning capabilities, social behaviors, cognitive capabilities, occurrences of insomnia, aggression in behavior, anxiety, depression, etc.
Studies have indicated that those who have been exposed to domestic violence are more likely to encounter difficulties during their growth (Pingley and Terra, 2017). These difficulties include but are not limited to, low self-esteem, lack of courage, being withdrawn, constant anger, antisocial behaviors, inability to identify with various social relationships, etc. Further, the studies have revealed a disturbing pattern. Such children are associated with attitudes that encourage or support violence. They also have unfettered beliefs on gender that glorify the privilege and dominance of males, mistreating animals, bully behavior, assault, destruction of property, and drug abuse.
In the United States, over 15 million children stay in families that have previously experienced domestic violence. Expectedly, these children are bound to go through the same cycle while they are adults. They turn into perpetrators of domestic violence themselves. Case scenario, a boy who has witnessed his mother undergoing destruction is likely to inflict the same abuse on his female counterpart. On the other hand, a girl who has been raised in a home that constantly saw the mother facing persecution from the father is more prone to being abused sexually (Rutter & Taylor, 2008). Cumulatively they could experience health problems such as depression as well as anxiety during adulthood.
Brown, B., and Bzostek, S. (2003, August). Violence in the lives of children. Crosscurrents, 1. Bethesda, MD: Child Trends. Retrieved from http://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2003/01/2003-15ViolenceChildren.pdf.
Pingley, Terra. (2017). The Impact of Witnessing Domestic Violence on Children: A Systematic Review. Retrieved from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website: https://sophia.stkate.edu/msw_papers/776
Rutter, M. & Taylor, E. (eds) (2008) 'Rutter's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry' (5th edn). London: Blackwell Publishing.
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