Astounding statistics reported by the Children’s Defense Fund, “An estimated 3 to 4 million women in the United States are battered each year by their partners, In homes where domestic violence occurs, children are seriously abused or neglected at a rate 1500% higher than the national average in the general population, Between 2. 3 and 10 million children are witnesses to family violence, Based on an estimate of 2 children per household, in 55% of violent homes, at least 3. 3 million children in the U. S. are at risk of witnessing domestic violence each year,” (Retrieved, 10/12/2011, http://cdf.
Domestic violence is a crime that affects every member of the family, including children. Many times children remain the silent victims that are abused both physically and psychologically. Family violence creates an environment where children live in constant fear and confusion. They are psychologically torn between the abusive parent and the parent who is subject to the abuse. They are affected in ways that make it hard to establish nurturing bonds with either parent.
“Each year an estimated 3. million children are exposed to violence against their mothers or female caretakers by family members,” (American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family: Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family,1996).
According to a recent national survey, only about one quarter of domestic violence is reported to the police, making it difficult to accurately estimate the number of actual victims. The children in families where domestic violence occurs are exposed to violence in various ways and the effects usually manifest themselves much like that of an abused or neglected child.
Because they may be direct witnesses to the abuse, many suffer irreversible emotional damage. They may also be in harm’s way themselves, have their lives disrupted by moving or being separated from parents, be used by the batterer to manipulate or gain control over the victim, and they themselves are more likely to be abused. According to a 2006 UNICEF World Report on Violence Against Children, “Exposure to domestic violence is widespread internationally and it is associated with other forms of child maltreatment. ” Children can be direct witnesses to domestic violence; they may see abusive incidents or hear iolence.
Children are usually considered secondary victims because they are witness to the violence. This can be harmful psychologically and emotionally. According to a study published in 2003, “Over 15 million children in the U. S. lived in families where intimate partner violence had occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred,” Whitfield, Anda, Dube, & Felittle (2003), Violent Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence in Adults: Assessment in a Large Health Maintenance Organization.
In a 2007 study in the U. S. 38% of incidents of intimate partner violence which involve female victims, children under age 12 were residents of the household,” Catalano & Shannan (2007), Intimate Partner Violence in the United States. Children can be displaced by the domestic violence when they seek shelter along with their abused parent. While statistics are not available globally, many shelters take in children as well as their abused parent.
According to a study of domestic violence shelters and services in the U. S. in a single day in 2008, 16,458 children were living in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing facility, while an additional 6,430 children sought services at a non-residential program. From: The National Network to End Domestic Violence, (2009). Domestic Violence Counts 2008: A 24-hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services. These children see no way out of their situation. They withdraw and become fearful. Depression, aggression and suicide occur in higher instances with the children who are not attended to and left to cope without intervention.
In order to help in a proactive capacity; as well as, be a catalyst that will spur on legislature and rights for children in a domestic violence situation, Lighted Pathways is a program that will be implemented in order to support children who live with violence and ensure a better tomorrow. Though it is said that children are resilient, it is imperative for them to be given an opportunity to thrive. Opportunities that allow for the child to create healthy bonds with adult, secure activities with peers, and gain a voice for themselves in a secure and protective environment will be provided.
It is the purpose of Lighted Pathways to help the child that was either a witness, or a victim of abuse themselves to, gain extended support through various activities, create lasting bonds with supportive individuals; such as, Big Brother/ Sisters and a familial type unit, extend educational opportunities, introduce the child to community resources and opportunities otherwise unavailable to them, create a peer connection, and obtain free or affordable, long-term counseling.
Lighted Pathways is set to create all of these programs utilizing resources from the, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB). Funds will also be rendered from the community, stakeholders, donations, and local funding and volunteerism. It is Lighted Pathways intention to assist the children victims and advocate for them in order to help them overcome, break free of the cycle of violence, and gain positive tools in order to be successful in their future endeavors. Lighted Pathways focuses on the whole child and the development in a multitudnal approach.
The initiative will utilize advocates, psychologists, law enforcement agencies, both adult and juvenile, educators, child specialists and community leaders to assist in a preventative, proactive program; as well as, help better adjust those children who are victims. Field Overview and Current Trends In 1994, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges published a “Model Code on Domestic and Family Violence. ” The code was not designed to be used universally, but rather one that should be adapted from state to state.
Developed with an advisory committee composed of leaders in the domestic violence field from all over the United States including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, matrimonial lawyers, battered women’s advocates, medical and health care professionals, law enforcement personnel, educators and others, it has helped to create stronger laws and enforceable legislation. The introduction to the code states: “Family violence is a wrong that needs righting in every state in this country. The key is community commitment to recognize, address and prevent such violence.
Effective and enabling legislation is the cornerstone,” (Retrieved, 10/12/2011 http://stopvaw. org). Because violence against women is one of the predominant factors of children as witnesses to IPV or intimate partner violence or domestic violence, the organization’s code has been conjunctively used to make the youngest victims voices heard. Recently, the human rights advocacy groups Rights for Change and Aim for Human Rights have issued a step-by-step handbook for conducting research on violence against women.
The manual provides users with a human rights background from which to view violence against women, explains how gather and analyze information about violence against women, and then describes how to use the reports to affect change in the area researched. This research is also being used as a cross reference and manual to guide for children. Domestic violence is a devastating social problem which has lasting impacts on every segment of the population. Each age group, race, ethnicity and class is touched by domestic violence, and many times it goes hidden and unseen.
Up until recently, the community and resources have been directed primarily targeted toward adult victims of abuse; however, increased attention is now being focused on the children who witness domestic violence and intimate partner violence. “Studies estimate that 10 to 20 percent of children are at risk for exposure to domestic violence,” (Carlson, 2000). “These findings translate into approximately 3. 3 to 10 million children who witness the abuse of a parent or adult caregiver each year,” (Carlson, 1984; Straus and Gelles, 1990).
Further research indicates that those children which are exposed to domestic violence are at an increased risk of being abused or neglected themselves. “A majority of studies reveal there are adult and child victims in 30 to 60 percent of families experiencing domestic violence,” (Appel and Holden, 1998; Edleson, 1999; Jaffe and Wolfe, 1990). This has previously led Social Workers to believe that taking the child from the parental home is necessary, but caution should be given to this action, as new inter-agency research suggests that children are manifesting other problems when displaced. Since children respond differently to domestic violence, professionals are cautioned against assuming that witnessing domestic violence constitutes child maltreatment or child protective services intervention,” (Aron & Olson, 1997; Beeman, Hagemeister & Edelson, 1999; Carter & Schechter, 1997; Findlater & Kelly, 1999; Spears, 200; Whitney and Davis, 1999).
Various States are creating legislation that better defines child neglect and includes children who witness domestic violence. “Expanding the legal definition of child altreatment, however, may not always be the most effective method to address the needs of these children. Communities can better serve families by allocating resources that build partnerships between service providers, child protective services, and the array of informal and formal systems that offer a continuum of services based upon the level of risk present,” (Carter and Schechter, 1997; Edleson, 1999; Spears, 2000). National, State and local initiatives are promoting a more cross agency awareness.
With this a collective and more uniformed definition and intolerance of abuse is being coordinated. Promising practices in this cross agency approach has included placing child protective service workers, child advocates and police officers in a supportive service arena. Proactive initiatives such as school awareness programs have been created, cross system protocols and training has also been more available for professionals. Integrated services and resources has become the prime foundation to help the adult victims; as well as the children who suffer domestic violence.
A shared goal and collaboration working in a proactive way to prevent violence and the subsequent repercussions is necessary. Problems Faced by Victims “Children who live with domestic violence face increased risks: the risk of exposure to traumatic events, the risk of neglect, the risk of being directly abused, and the risk of losing one or both of their parents. All of these may lead to negative outcomes for children and may affect their well-being, safety, and stability,” (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Rossman, 2001).
According to research, childhood problems associated with exposure to domestic violence fall into three primary categories; Behavioral, social and emotional, cognitive and attitudinal, and long term. Each of these categories have a plethora of subcategories such as aggression, anger, withdrawal, self-esteem, bonding, poor peer relations, poor school performance, lack of conflict resolution, no social skills, in adults the symptoms manifest in depression, aggression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and even a cycle of abuse and becoming an abuser.
Children’s risk levels and reactions to domestic violence exist on a continuum where some children demonstrate enormous resiliency while others show signs of significant maladaptive adjustment,” (Carlson, 2000; Edleson, 1999; Hughes, Graham-Bermann & Gruber, 2001). Assessment of factors that affect the child regarding domestic violence is dependent upon the type of violence, exposure, the coping skills of the child, age, gender and whether or not the child suffered physical or sexual abuse, as well.
The scars from Domestic violence tend to last far into adulthood. Adults continue to suffer the consequences of a violent childhood, and society has to pick up the pieces. The cycle states that they are more likely to commit suicide, abuse drugs or alcohol, be unemployed, or commit violence against their own partners. And with this, their children continue the cycle with a new generation of victims and witnesses. Because the child is usually not included unless he or she has been physically inflicted by domestic violence, the problem continues.
It is a challenge to demonstrate the need to address the effects on children witnessing domestic violence and begin to establish effective solutions. It is important for advocacy groups and programs to support and nurture the child and gives them a multidimensional, therapeutic program that addresses the whole child, not just the physical or the emotional. Conclusion Domestic violence is the single most frequent cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 (“Family Violence Prevention Fund Domestic Violence Fact Sheet,” www. endabuse. rg. ) Domestic violence shatters the lives of its victims and diminishes the quality of life for everyone in the community. It is the leading cause of homelessness for women and families. It also can be incredibly traumatic for children who witness it. Focusing on the victimization of the child and the impact it has on their lives both presently and long-term helps to create a more positive outcome for those involved. Intervention and proactive programs such as Lighted Pathways are a start to assist in the rebuilding of the child’s psyche.
A child who has a support group and a unit that is stable and nurturing is more likely to flourish and thrive. Success depends on volunteerism, funding and community support. It is also imperative that education, advocacy and legislative progress is made for these youngest victims. The dilemma of domestic violence is still an epidemic that seems to be swept under the rug and the youngest victims tend to have the most silent of voices. Lighted Pathways intentions and purpose is to give voice to these victims, support their needs, and strengthen their lives.
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Domestic Violence Program Proposal. (2017, Feb 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/domestic-violence-program-proposal-essay