Effects of Violence on Children


The effects that violence has on children

  • Research shows that 50% of the men who frequently assault their wives also frequently abuse their children.
  • Child abuse is 15 times more likely to occur in families where domestic violence is present.
  • Men who have witnessed their parents' violence are three times more likely to abuse their own wives than children of nonviolent parents.
  • Children who witness violence at home may display emotional and behavioural problems as varied as withdrawal, low self-esteem, nightmares, self-blame, and aggression against peers, family members and property.
  • A comparison of delinquent and non-delinquent youth found that a history of family violence or abuse is very significant when comparing the differences between the two groups.
  • Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year.

Ways in which violence is being taught to children

  • Children see parents put down and strike each other.
  • Parents encourage their children to fight back or be bullies.
  • Toy guns or other toy weapons are supplied to children.
  • Violence is encouraged in competitive sports.
  • Violence and sexual aggression are seen as entertainment in TV media, song lyrics and computer games.

Factors that protect children from becoming violent

  • Exposure to more positive behaviour rather than negative behaviour.
  • High self-esteem.
  • Involvement with extended family.
  • Interaction with those in the community.
  • Support from family, teachers and friends.
  • Participation of family members in activities that are mutual and independent.
  • A spiritual or religious base with which the child can identify.

What can be done about children witnessing violence?

  • Parents can learn how violence affects children.
  • Parents can learn and teach children effective non-violent coping skills.
  • Parents can listen to children in order to understand their interpretation of violent episodes.
  • Parents can seek help with issues of violence in the family.

Need more information?

Would you like to speak more with a health care professional about this?  Click here for local contact information in your community.