How Domestic Violence Damages Children and Teens

Exposing children to domestic violence is emotional abuse. And that abuse has a range of negative consequences.

Neglect and physical abuse also frequently occur along with the emotional abuse.

Children who report high levels of exposure to violence (either as witness or victim) report the highest levels of depression, anger and anxiety.

Some of them can become desensitised to violence and learn that it’s normal. They may become more aggressive themselves.

A Canadian study found that children who witnessed chronic parental violence were at greater risk of substance abuse.

One in 7 drug-or-alcohol dependent adults had been exposed to chronic parental violence compared to 1 in 25 of the general Canadian population.

‘Chronic’ was defined as occurring 11 or more times before the child turned 16.

Children exposed to this violence were also at much greater risk of suicide attempts (17% of adults versus 2% without this childhood adversity).

The UK’s Early Intervention Foundation’s review also stated that parents/couples who engage in frequent, intense and poorly resolved inter-parental conflicts put children’s mental health and long-term life chances at risk.

Children of all ages can be affected by destructive inter-parental conflict, with effects evidenced across infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

The implications are serious for the children of parent/carers who are entangled in situations of domestic violence.

On the school website there is advice on sources of information and support (Current families > Counselling).


Martin Graham

School Counsellor