Negative Impact Of Domestic Violence On Children Research Papers Examples
Poverty, crime, racism, sexism, and corruption are some of the problems that exist globally and that have persisted despite all our technological and cultural advancement. Domestic violence is another one of these problems and is a very serious concern because of the parties involved in it and its nature. Fundamentally this problem exists at the level of households and families and these are the basic building blocks of a society. If the basic building blocks are faulty the whole structure of the society is at risk. On an individual level domestic violence can lead to horrendous results and this happens all over the world. Especially children are adversely affected by being subjected to domestic violence. Not only that, detrimental effects are also observed in children who witness domestic abuse and grow up in an abusive environment. These negative effects of domestic violence include behavioral, emotional and physical problems in children and sometimes these effects can last for a life time. These affected individuals have a higher tendency to perpetuate violence when they become heads of households and hence the cycle carries on. This cyclical nature of domestic violence makes it a hard task to tackle but efforts must not cease to control and counter it.
This essay will first attempt to define and describe main concern of this essay i.e. domestic violence. The types of domestic violence and their effects on the victim will be discusses. This essay will further attempt to ascertain the effects of domestic violence on children. Children are likely to show behavioral, emotional and physical symptoms after having experienced or observed domestic abuse. Internalization and externalization problems are the two main categories of effects observed in children who have been exposed to domestic violence. Prior research shall be used to identify each type of symptom and analyze it in detail. Each type of symptom will be researched to identify its causes and its various forms. The relative prevalence and severity of the symptoms will also be discussed. The means used to treat the symptoms and their effectiveness will also be looked at through secondary data with a particular focus on Canadian population. This will be followed by an analysis of domestic violence using major sociological theories. Domestic violence being a social and familial phenomenon, one can understand the dynamics of domestic violence better with some theoretical framework. The efforts that have been made against domestic violence can also be categorized using some sociological theory and these efforts could be evaluated to see if some alternate methodology suggested by another sociological theory could have worked better. For the purpose of this essay Structural-Functionalist theory, Conflict theory and Exchange theory will be used. Lastly the literature reviewed will be critiqued along with the identification of limitations and biases in the research.
In studying domestic violence it is first important to see what domestic violence is, its various forms and what they entail as well as some common effects and trends associated with domestic violence. The attorney general’s office in the American state Nevada (2011) has defined domestic violence as “as a violent crime committed in the context of an intimate relationship. It is characterized by acts of violence, power and coercion intended to control another person’s behavior”. There is always a victim-perpetrator relationship involved in domestic violence. It has been observed that both men and women can be victims but in most of the instance it is the female that is being victimized. Domestic violence is usually present in five major forms, psychological, emotional, physical, economic and sexual. Physical violence is the most apparent forms of abuse as marks and bruises on body can be noticed. But it is a misconception that physical violence is only exercised through direct physical abuse that will leave some bodily evidence. Sometimes abuse can also be carried out through shoving, restraining, starving or putting the victim through physical discomfort. At other times even the threat of violence against the victim or other people or possessions can be used to control the victim. Sexual abuse is a highly damaging form of violence as it leaves both physical and psychological effects. Sexual abuse can occur through rape, attempted rape, attack on sexual body parts or such threats. Emotional abuse is also a particularly harmful form of domestic violence. Emotional abuse involves destroying the victim’s self-worth and emotional stability. This can be done through insults, verbal abuse, name calling, ignoring, constantly criticizing or through non-verbal expressions. A victim whose self-worth has been damaged is likely to feel helpless and unable to get out of the abusive relationship and the abuse is prolonged. An effective way to restrict the victim is make him or her financially dependent. This form of economic abuse is a way to make the victim incapable of getting help or breaking out of the abusive relationship and hence the abuser can exercise a great degree of control on the victim. Lastly, psychological abuse is carried out by gaining control over the mind of the victim. This can be done by threatening the victim or others, by the effects of a trauma as in PTSD or by socially isolating the victim. All these means tend to weaken the victim making him or her helpless which is one of the important objectives of the abusers. The multiple form of abuse make it domestic violence a complex phenomenon and problem to tackle. Another factor that contributes to the difficulty of controlling domestic violence is that victims do not always report the abuse. In various forms of abuse the victim is made helpless and the incidents of abuse are never reported. If abuse in never reported in the first place it becomes extremely difficult to stop it. This makes it even more important to gain a deeper understanding of the forms and effects of abuse because if domestic abuse is allowed to affect significant portions of the population many children will get affected and they can suffer irreversible physical or psychological damage. Childhood is a vulnerable age and the impact of adverse events can make such children into problematic or troubled adults creating another problem for the society to contend with.
The Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children based in Canada produced a document titled “Children Exposed to Domestic Violence” (2012) which provides a good starting point for analyzing this issues in Canada. The ways by which children experience violence in domestic settings include seeing one of their parents getting assaulted or verbally abused, learning of abuse against a parent, witnessing effects of abuse in the form of bruises or injuries, being used by the abuser as a tool to inflict psychological or emotional abuse and experiencing effects of economic abuse. Research has been able to identify several potential effects of domestic violence on children. These effects include physical symptoms where children experience pain, breathing problems or insomnia. Psychological symptoms include development of depression, guilt, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Behavioral problems like aggression, drug use, delinquency and suicidal tendencies have also been observed in children. Social disruptions that can follow after abuse are withdrawal, trust issues, lack of self-confidence and tendency towards accepting and perpetuating violence. Lastly, academics are one area of children’s lives that can be severely affected and leave lifelong impacts. Children who have witnesses abuse show different adjustment patterns. Some have internalizing difficulties in the form of depression or anxiety. Others develop externalizing difficulties like conduct problems and aggression. Some children show both internalizing and externalizing difficulties while some show neither. The adjustment pattern adopted depends on various factors like the nature and situation of the victim of abuse, the characteristics of abuse life intensity and frequency, external variables like poverty, lack of support system, and close relationships. In Canada the problem of domestic violence is a serious concern and statistics from 2013 indicate that for every 100,000 individuals there were 253 victims involved in family related violence. The rate of non-family related violence was even higher with 713 victims per 100,000people of the population. For children under the age of 18 years there were around 250 victims of family-related crime per 100,000 in the population. These victims represent about 30% of the entire population of children who had been subjected to a violent crime. Although the rate of domestic violence has decreased in Canada over the years still the problem is very much persistent.
As shown by research, as an effect of being abused or witnessing abuse children develop externalizing or internalizing behavioral and emotional problems. Externalizing problems are the most common cluster of problems that are observed in children and adolescents. Externalizing problems are usually manifested in the form of disruptive and unruly behavior, impulsivity, over activity, aggression and other anti-social behaviors. Externalizing difficulties in their worse forms can become clinical disorders like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder and Oppositional-defiant Disorder. These disorders and their significant prevalence highlight the seriousness of the impacts of domestic violence as there is a strong correlation between children with externalizing problems who have been subjected to or observed domestic violence. The specific problems that children with externalizing difficulties face are mainly due to their defiant attitude and their inability to focus. This means that such children are academically underachievers, have difficulty forming healthy relationships with peers and have issues with authority. When these problems escalate, these children can be driven to crime and delinquency which put them at further risk of being apprehended and put into correctional facilities. This presents a lifelong unhealthy pattern where first there was abuse and later there are legal repercussions.
Internalizing problems are the second most prevalent cluster of symptoms and typically include depression, anxiety and withdrawal. Clinically, children with internalizing problems are often categorized into schizoids, anxious-depressed, withdrawn and those with somatic problems. Specific anxiety disorders associated with internalizing difficulties include separation anxiety disorder, overanxious disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, social phobia, avoidant disorder, panic disorder, simple phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Common mood disorders that result from internalizing difficulties include major depressive disorder, dysthymia, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder. These problems will have considerable detrimental effects on children and even though they have less chances of having issues with law, they will still have immense difficulty in leading normal productive lives.
Another major category of effects of domestic violence is in the form of physical and somatic symptoms. Physical symptoms can result directly from abuse. In worst cases such effects can leave lifelong deformities or marks. In other cases children suffer from neurological changes after suffering or witnessing abuse that leads to psychological problems. PTSD is a major outcome that has neurological basis. Somatic problems are also observed in abused children. Particular instances of somatic problems include excessive masturbation, abdominal dysfunction, vaginal discharge, chronic pains and poor body image. These problems will have an evident impact on the quality of life of the children suffering from such problems. These problems also tend to be longer lasting and hence keep reminding the victim of the abuse incidents making it difficult to cope and overcome the adversity. As for emotional problems developed due to abuse many have been categorized under the internalizing and externalizing problems and also as disorders in the more severe cases. But in general victims of abuse will tend to have mood swings, depression and weaker ability to regulate and control their emotions.
Relating the issue of domestic violence to sociological theories gives us multiple directions for the analysis of the issue of domestic violence. This analysis can enable us to identify the role of the participants involved in domestic violence as well as giving us some clue to their mental state and motivations. Apart from the victim and abuser, sociological theories also allow us to identify the participants on a macro level like the government, non-government institutes, media and the extended family of the victim and abuser. The role these micro and macro level participants play in the perpetration or opposition of domestic violence can inform us on why it is still prevalent. One can also make better judgments as to how this issue can be dealt with. Using specific sociological theories, the Structural-Functionalist analysis will tend to look at social institutes and norms. This view sees individuals as part of a structure and looks at interactions between structures . This way domestic violence will be seen as a structural problem where the institution of home is internally flawed and its members are living in disharmony and in a state of conflict. Related institutions will be law enforcement agencies, social workers, and the extended family. It will be seen as a responsibility of the related institutions to look over the disruptive institution (home) and bring its members in line. The Conflict theory takes a different outlook from structural-functionalist approach. The latter takes society as a stable body that remains in equilibrium where the institutions are in a state of collaborative interaction. The conflict theory on the other hand views the society at every point in time and identifies the conflicts and struggles going on. The concepts of authority and positions are central to this approach. According to the conflict theory, domestic violence will be a situation where one player has assumed an abnormal degree of authority and his or her use of that authority is causing a greater degree of conflict. A violence prone home will be seen as a place where the natural level of conflict has been disturbed and this level needs to be restored to stop the violence. It can be seen that under this approach there will be slightly more focus on the individual as the abusive individual has to be controlled and this abnormal authority has to be corrected. The Exchange theory takes a relatively different approach. This theory takes the actions and its results into account from an individual’s perspective. This theory postulates that individuals engage in behavior that provides them with rewards so every individual is acting to maximize the rewards and minimize the costs or punishment. The acquisition of rewards is a social process and our interactions are based on the value derived out of them. People with power are those who can grant reward or have the capability to acquire reward from others. From this perspective domestic abuse is a situation where the abuser has distorted expectations of rewards and has power over the victim. The abuser either considers the power he or she yields as the reward or is frustrated at not getting the reward they desire or expect. In the former situation it is clearly a pathological problem and demands psychological help while in the latter situation the abuser needs counseling or the relationship needs to be terminated. A review of actual practices indicated that there is greater prevalence of structural-functionalist ideas and practices. The most prominent entities involved in countering domestic violence are the law enforcement agencies and civil rights activists. Upon the first report of domestic violence temporary judicial orders are issued to provide immediate relief to the victim. Later detailed hearings are conducted to provide permanent arrangements for the victim and other dependents. The abuser is taken into custody or restraint orders are issued against him with further more serious penalties in case of violation. Media and civil rights activists have an important role in increasing awareness about this issue and highlighting cases that are worthy of public and institutional attention (Goldfarb, 2007). This situation can be commonly observed in developed countries like Canada but in the rest of developing or under-developed world the situation is a lot worse and victims suffer interminably.
The entire review of domestic violence literature reveals the fact that domestic violence is an underreported phenomenon and many individuals are missed out in the statistics mentioned with regards to victims (Garcia, 2004). Furthermore, there is a greater body of research on the victims as compared to the perpetrators. In terms of the reforms as well, very few studies are to be found that evaluate the effects of interventions against domestic violence. This is a very important overlooked field of study because by evaluating intervention the most ideal system and methodology could be identified. This depicts a harmful bias on the part of researchers and policy makers as they are working with preconceived notions without having tested and evaluated alternatives. Additionally, there is more focus on helping and protecting victims whereas the perpetrators and abusers are dealt with through legal and corrective means. If using the Exchange theory, the abuser is analyzed through psychological and motivational perspectives one could identify what drives her or him. Similarly more personalized and individualistic means will have to be developed to control and deal with the abusive individuals rather than using the iron hand of the legal system. This bias is also present in research where there is a dearth of studies on abusers and their motivations. If more research is done on perpetrators to understand their characteristics, mindsets and triggers it could help raise more awareness among the populations for potential abusers. This way preventive measure could be put in place before any abuse occurs. One could identify what factors drive a person to become an abuser and with this knowledge, interventions could be devised to help and support people who have a higher tendency to become abusive. This way abuse could be prevented and there will be less involvement of the legal institutions and more of mental health workers and support providers. Also, with regards to the research already done, in most cases questionnaires are used which is a relatively reliable tool but in case of lower classes of the society where literacy is low interviewing will be a better methodology. This shows a limitation of the research because interviewing is a time-consuming and resource intensive methodology and is also likely to exclude the subjects who are reserved or feel threatened.
In a nut shell, domestic violence is a vast and multifaceted problem. It exists in almost all the societies of the world. It can be carried out in the form of physical, psychological, sexual, emotional or economic abuse. Its effects on children are also wide-ranging and multi-dimensional. These problems can be generally grouped into internalizing and externalizing problems. Internalizing problems are anxiety, emotions and mood related, while externalizing problems are more behaviorally oriented. Children also suffer from physical problems directly resulting from abuse or develop psychosomatic problems that have both, a psychological and physical basis. With regards to the control of domestic violence in Canada the Canadian Government began the Family Violence Initiative in 1988 which was a collaborative effort of many federal institutes, agencies and Crown corporations. In the recent times notable efforts in this regard include the Women Abuse Affects our Children initiative which aims to educate teachers and educations in spotting troubled children and supporting them. Through these children abusive households could be identified and appropriate measures could be taken. Caring Dads is another such program that targets abusive adults and father and helps them reform themselves. This program includes counseling and helping such individuals realize the consequences of their actions and how to restrain themselves. Possibly due to these measures and strategic efforts, domestic violence has been declining in Canada but there is still a lot of room present for improvement and complete eradication of this problem.
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