As the social and political environment in the United States changes, so does the debate over violence against children, with successive administrations claiming to be more decisive in dealing with it. Recent policy circles have also raised concern about the growth in domestic violence (Heleniak & McLaughlin, 2020). Efforts are being made to improve the criminal justice system’s reaction to domestic abuse, but this raises doubts about the effectiveness of promoting good relationships in the home. As a result, it has become evident that the emotional care of children and young people must be taken into account when planning social services (Majali & Alsrehan, 2019). It is critical to foster positive relationships within the family to prevent violence towards children. When children are physically abused or witness adults engaging in domestic violence, their safety and well-being are threatened, and they suffer physical and psychological trauma.
Description of the Social Problem
Children’s exposure to family violence is a clear indicator of the seriousness of the social problem of child abuse. If the violence happens inside the family, children who are mistreated or witness it are more likely to engage in aggressive demeanor as teens or adults (Heleniak & McLaughlin, 2020). One out of every four children in the United States has been a victim of abuse or domestic violence (Heleniak & McLaughlin, 2020). Every year, over 4 million American children are victims of domestic violence. An estimated 683,000 children in the United States have also been identified as victims of maltreatment as a result of evidence gathered from these reports (Resource Center on Domestic Violence, 2021). More than half of the victims were female, with children as young as three accounting for approximately 28% of the total (RCDV, 2021; Perera & Diaz-Fae, 2020). Sexual abuse has also been reported to affect 8 percent of male children and 18 percent of female children (Pereda & Diaz-Fae, 2020). Hence, abuse of any kind, whether it’s physical or psychological, may happen to children.
Abuse or neglect of children can have a wide range of negative social, psychological, and behavioral consequences. Children who have been abused may display signs of anxiety and depression (Heleniak & McLaughlin, 2020; Majali & Alsrehan, 2019). In adulthood, those who were physically abused as children are more likely to struggle with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Similarly, adolescents who were mistreated as children are more prone to developing externalizing issues like delinquency and violent behavior (Heleniak & McLaughlin, 2020). Therefore, the fact that many youngsters are at risk of becoming victims of domestic abuse shows just how widespread the issue is.
Parental Behaviors That Expose Children to Violence
There was a surge in parental aggressiveness against their children during the COVID-19 outbreak, which was exacerbated by the stresses of working at home, closer contact between parents and their children, and parents’ widespread stress-relieving alcohol intake. The pandemic made it more difficult to address the children’s emotional needs because of the higher likelihood of parent-child violence (Pereda & Diaz-Fae, 2020). At the same time, events of intimate partner violence have a detrimental effect on a mother’s capability to properly nurture her children (Majali & Alsrehan, 2019). According to Perebo and Almqvist (2017), in some situations, mothers may evade their responsibilities or become hostile and brutally chastise their children. As a result, if the parents’ physical and emotional stability is jeopardized, the child’s physical and emotional well-being may also be endangered.
Behavior Change Recommendations for Parents
Behavioral control and enabling healthy relationships are two relevant transformation processes to mitigate violence against children in families. It’s been established that employing trauma-informed strategies to manage family behavior and develop parental awareness, self-awareness, and emotional stability are all effective ways to break the cycle of abuse (Pereda & Diaz-Fae, 202). The bulk of the research inquiry focused on improving coping skills and parenting abilities has established that it’s possible that providing parents with additional social support to strengthen their relationship could play a role (Heleniak & McLaughlin, 2020; Younas & Gutman, 2021). According to a new corpus of research, the multigenerational cycle of child abuse is maintained through social isolation for parents (Heleniak & McLaughlin, 2020; Younas & Gutman, 2021). Improving the social skills and relationships of parents with one another might be one way to minimize social isolation.
Parents and their children’s connection is, therefore, a vital ingredient of the intervention, as is targeted behavior modification. This is because healthy relationships are ones that generate mutual trust and attachment (Younas & Gutman, 2021). Parents can impact their children’s attachment impressions by developing meaningful relationships (Pernebo & Almqvist, 2017). Parenting interventions should be designed to improve the relationship between parents and their children in order to break the cycle of abuse.
As a result of watching adults engage in domestic violence or being physically abused, children are not only physically and psychologically traumatized, but they are also at risk for their own safety and well-being. The fact that so many youngsters are at risk of becoming victims of domestic abuse shows just how widespread the issue is. There are several ways to reduce violence towards children in families, including behavioral management and fostering good family ties. Improving the social skills and relationships of parents with one another might be one way to minimize social isolation. Parental and their children’s connection is a key component of the intervention, as is targeted behavior modification. It is possible to interrupt the cycle of child abuse and neglect if focus is placed on improving parenting skills and encouraging parent–child connections.
Heleniak, C., & McLaughlin, K. A. (2020). Social-cognitive mechanisms in the cycle of violence: Cognitive and affective theory of mind, and externalizing psychopathology in children and adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 32(2), 735–750. Web.
Majali, A. & Alsrehan, H. (2019). The impact of family violence on the social and psychological development of the child. Utopía y Praxis Latinoamericana, 24(5), 199-207. Web.
Pereda, N. & Diaz-Fae, D. (2020). Family violence against children in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic: a review of current perspectives and risk factors. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 14(40, 1-24. Web.
Pernebo, K. & Almqvist, K. (2017). Young children exposed to intimate partner violence describe their abused parent: A qualitative study. Journal of Family Violence, 32, 169–178. Web.
Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (2021). Rates of child abuse and child exposure to domestic violence. Web.
Younas, F. & Gutman, L. (2021). Using the Behaviour Change Wheel (BCW) to characterise parenting interventions to prevent intergenerational child abuse. Int. Journal on Child Malt., 1(1), 1-22. Web.