UK – Young children who witness domestic violence show later aggression

Social workers need to consider the longer term effects of exposure to violence, research suggests


Research conducted by Dr Megan Holmes of the Mandel School of Applied Sciences indicates that young children who witness acts of violence between their parents may be at greater risk of becoming aggressive when they are of school age. The research project found that the behaviour of children in the classroom and playground may have its origins in their experiences of being three years old or younger.

Dr Holmes examined the long-term effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) on 107 children who were exposed tosuch violence between birth and age three and compared the data with 339 children of the same age who were not exposed. 

A study was made of the long-term effects of IPV upon children’s prosocial skills, including cooperation, responsibility, assertiveness and respect. Dr Holmes also examined the long-term effects on aggressive behaviours, including yelling, shouting and hitting. Her analyses included five years of data and revealed that negative effects do not show up immediately. Rather, children gradually become more aggressive, especially between the ages of five and six. Holmes refers to this as the sleeper effect. 

Dr Holmes says that these findings have important implications for social work practice. When social workers learn that a child has been or may have been exposed to IPV, it is important for them to assess for the negative effects not only now but also over time, especially as the child begins to enter school. Likewise, when a problematic behavior shows up, it is important not only to assess for current exposure to IPV but also for previous exposure.

For more details of the research, please click here.


SOURCE: Family Law Week

Permanent link to this article: