How Parental Violence Affects Kids

By Subodh / December 16, 2014

Young children tend to have a mind that is easily manipulated- the absorb what they see and behave accordingly. It is therefore important to ensure that you create a healthy and positive environment at home while raising your baby.
Parental violence tends to have a disastrous effect on the child’s health. Keep reading to learn more about how parental violence affects children.

Behavioral Changes in Children

Children who are exposed to parental violence frequently often exhibit a personality that is different from other children- such children tend to have many behavioural problems and in general, have higher levels of anger, hostility, disobedience and aggressive and oppositional behavior. Such children also tend to have low self esteem levels and are victims of social abuse and relationship problems. Some children also tend to exhibit higher levels of fear and tend to be withdrawn from those around them. They may also have fear and mistrust of close relationships and may demonstrate impulsive behavior.

parental violence

Cognitive Problems in Children

Higher levels of domestic and parental violence witnessed by children for a longer period of time and at an early age may also contribute to cognitive problems in children. Such children tend to score lower on assessments of verbal, cognitive and motor skills. They are also more likely to have difficulties in school, and in general exhibit limited problem solving skills and lack conflict resolution skills. Infact, they are also less likely to have rigid beliefs about gender stereotypes, and have slower cognitive development.

Long Term Effects of Parental Violence

Regardless of whether they are physically abused or not, children who experience parental violence tend to suffer from both emotional and psychological trauma. Children whose mothers are denied a proper homely environment and are victims of the father’s abuse tend to have very strong opinions about marriage and relationships, and grow up believing that an individual can use violence and intimidation to get his/her way in a relationship.

The child who is exposed to such an environment for a longer period of time may also lose his/her respect for the parents, and may resort to aggression and other negative behaviours when he comes in close proximity to them. Higher levels of adult depression and trauma are also known in those who grew up in an environment with higher levels of parental violence.

Other Effects of Parental Violence

Other negative physical and mental impacts the child may have on exposure to parental violence includes the following-

  • The child may turn to alcohol or drug abuse
  • He may wet the bed
  • He may be forced to flee he home
  • He may experience physical symptoms including headache, anxiety, stuttering and even stomach aches
  • They may commit sexual assaults
  • They may commit some crime punishable by law
  • They may blame themselves for the parental violence
  • They may commit self harm
  • They may try to commit suicide
  • They may become aggressive towards the parents and towards the siblings.

Factors that Influence the Impact on Children

Apart from these, there are several other factors that could determine the intensity of the impact of children who are exposed to domestic violence by their parents.

  • Gender: Boys who are exposed to parental violence tend to demonstrate externalized behavior such as being aggressive or throwing tantrums, while girls who are exposed to the same tend to be withdrawn and experience depression.
  • Nature of the violence: Naturally, children who experience parental violence often are more likely to be affected by it as opposed to those who are not affected by it that often.
  • Sexual abuse: Children who are sexually abused along with facing parental violence are at a much higher risk of being emotionally and psychologically disturbed.
  • Age: The age plays an important role in determining the extent to which parental violence affects the child- younger children exhibit higher levels of emotional disturbances as opposed to children who were exposed to it when they were older.
  • Time period: Higher levels of fear and anxiety are noted in children who have recently gone through a case of parental violence as opposed to those who experienced it a considerable while back.