2008 | Research papers
Stephanie Holta, Helen Buckleyb, Sadhbh Whelana
This article reviews the literature concerning the impact of exposure to domestic violence on the health and developmentalwell-being of children and young people. Impact is explored across four separate yet inter-related domains (domestic violence exposure and child abuse; impact on parental capacity; impact on child and adolescent development; and exposure to additional adversities), with potential outcomes and key messages concerning best practice responses to children’s needs highlighted.
This review finds that children and adolescents living with domestic violence are at increased risk of experiencing emotional, physical and sexual abuse, of developing emotional and behavioral problems and of increased exposure to the presence of other adversities in their lives. It also highlights a range of protective factors that can mitigate against this impact, in particular a strong relationship with and attachment to a caring adult, usually the mother.
Children and young people may be significantly affected by living with domestic violence, and impact can endure even after measures have been taken to secure their safety. It also concludes that there is rarely a direct causal pathway leading to a particular outcome and that children are active in constructing their own social world. Implications for interventions suggest that timely, appropriate and individually tailored responses need to build on the resilient blocks in the child’s life.