Domestic violence is a serious issue that has a negative effect on the family unit and more especially on the children. Despite the passing of various bills and laws that touch on marriage and domestic violence, the problem continues to escalate in the society as it takes various forms. It is unfortunate that many cases of domestic violence are never reported as the main victims, who are the children continue to suffer in silence. Domestic violence is commonly used to define the unfair treatment subjected to family members by one of the members. In most cases, it has always involved a man harassing his wife and subsequently passing the treatment to the children. Considering the impact of domestic violence on the life of the children, efforts have always been put in place to help them through life just to ensure they live normal life.
Issues and problems in the families are inevitable yet they do not have to negatively impact on the life of the children. A family is considered the basic unit that forms the society. This therefore implies that when issues are not resolved at a family level, then the entire society will be affected. The current trend where we have smaller families, mostly living as a nuclear unit, it may be quite difficult to detect some of the issues that will subsequently lead to domestic violence. Married couples tend to hide many things from the public eye and choose to persevere as they hope everything will be okay. It however becomes quite difficult when children are involved and hence making it difficult for them to handle the issues. Children of all ages hold their parents in a very high esteem (Koenen, 2003). From a tender age, they observe what their parents do and how they relate with each other. Being the very first people they encounter in their innocent lives, they derive a lot of lessons and inspiration from them
Parents are in fact the most trusted people that a child first encounters. This implies that in their minds, whatever their parents do and are involved in is right and normal. They will therefore observe their conduct and try to practice what they do. Things however change especially when the children are exposed to a larger society and realise that things are not always done the same way. They realise that there are other people in their lives such as their teachers and even caregivers who do not necessarily handle things the way their parents do. They will therefore try to understand the difference as they compare and contrast. Such observations does not however make them change their perspective towards their parents. They are instead amazed at how such differences arise but still hold on to what they have seen with their parents. It is common to find children in school making reference to their parents especially when they have to do something in a particular way that others may oppose to.
It is usually pleasant when children are brought up in stable families and all the references they make on their parents are good. There is however children who are brought up in families that are dominated by violence and even feel withdrawn when they go to school. In most cases, when a family is affected by domestic violence, the parents may have little or even no time for their children as they are so much occupies with their issues. Unlike other psychological issues such as finances that members can easily cover up, domestic violence can never be hidden as it at times involves physical and verbal actions. Children, however young they are tend to react according to the environment (Holden, 2003). For instance, a toddler will often cry whenever there is a lot of noise around them or they do not get the needed attention.
Some of the major causes of domestic violence include alcoholism, poverty, adultery, illiteracy and unemployment. This is mostly made in reference to men who subject their wives to torture. In the cases of poverty and unemployment, the man might feel inadequate to provide for his family. The fear of him being considered to be less a man makes him prove it through his physical and verbal strength. Such stress may even lead to alcoholism which has been considered to be one of the shortcuts to boosting ego. Not being able to prove their masculinity by verbally and physically demining their wives. This is mostly done in front of children who are also made to develop a fear against their father. Depending on the situation, children may either sympathise with the situation or look at it as a normal trend. Many adults have admitted to the fact that it was not easy to approach their dad as he was always considered harsh.
Some children are brought up in environments where they never had a close relationship with their fathers. They were supposed to keep distant and stay silent whenever their father was around. There was also fear of the fact that he will always be coming home late to pick on mistakes of what was not done well. The children therefore had to be very cautious and even sometimes run away whenever their dad was around. Some would lock themselves up in their rooms or simply pretend to be busy with their books just to avoid any encounter with their dad. This implied that children had to pretend whenever their father was a round and hence missing on important mentorship (DeVoe & Smith, 2002). Most of the children and especially boys that are brought up in such environment tend to think that a man is supposed to be commanding and terrorising people around. This will ultimately reflect on their future families.
In cases of domestic violence where a husband arrives home, probably drunk and the first thing he thinks of is to fight his wife and call her names, children are left wondering how bad either of them is. Most children know that it is only a bad person or the one who has done something wrong that is punished and beaten. On the other hand, they also grow to understand that it is only a bad person that will beat and punish the other one. With such contradicting perspectives in their minds, they keep wondering whom among their father and their mother is bad. As they battle with figuring out the matter, they are also held in between whom to trust and believe. They will therefore conclude that either one of their parents is bad or that they are all bad. This is a confusing state for the children who are meant to trust both their parents. It is sad for children to grow up thinking that fathers are always bad or mothers are always bad.
As children realise that the issues they are facing with their parents does not necessarily happen in other homes, they feel disadvantaged. They are in fact shocked to realise that other children have parents who relate well with each other. They start feeling that there is something wrong somewhere, whether with their families or the families of other children. In the process of bargaining with such issues, they are likely to develop attitudes and even habits that will affect their growth and their future. As other children are probably happily playing or concentrating on their class work, they are busy battling out with questions in their minds, which they cannot figure out the correct answers (Garbarino, 2001). They usually long for a person who can help them solve the puzzle in their minds yet they do not know whom to ask and how to do it. This is the time they need a person close and around them who can empathise with their situation and help them through.
Even though the affected children may not express most of the cases of domestic violence, teachers and other caregivers can always notice a weird behaviour among the affected children. Teachers being the second parents and caregivers that a child can have, they are in the best position to help children affected by domestic violence to overcome their state and minimize on the repercussions. For instance, a teacher can notice that a child is withdrawn during play or is not concentrate well in class. This needs to be followed up to see if the problem is related to their family background or is just another condition (Edleson, 1999). Teachers may have nothing much to do with the wrangles that happen in the homes of their pupils, yet they can assist the child to understand the situation and not get so much overwhelmed by it. Measures can also be taken to ensure that the children have a more comfortable environment at school where they can enjoy their childhood.
When a teacher knows that a child is being brought up in an environment of domestic violence, they can help them comprehend the issues at hand even as they grow up. This can be done in a cautious way so that the child does not develop an hatred towards their parents. As they mature up, they are made to understand that at times parents have differences that are hard to resolve and hence leading to violence. As they get to learn this, they will know that in as much as it is normal for couples to fight, it is not the way to resolve differences. The aim of such counselling is to mould them into better people as they grow up. They will be able to see the faults in their families and aspire to provide solutions to them and their future relationships. The counselling may not stop the violence I their families but it will help the children to learn to live and even deal with it. Having people around them who can listen to them especially when their parents cannot help will ensure that the burden is lifted off their chests.
Helping children deal with issues of domestic violence will save them from falling victims to immoral acts with the effort to forget or deal with their situation. When such cases are not handled well in time, some children grow up knowing that it is normal to fight. They will therefore pick up a fight with their fellow children and even teachers. They will simply practice what they see their parents doing. Some also may resolve into drug and alcohol abuse with their efforts to forget their worries. Others even get stressed and depressed and even contemplate committing suicide. These are some of the issues that innocent children can be protected from succumbing to by other adults around them.
No matter how tough and completed a case may be, children can always be helped to overcome such consequences. If adults took it upon themselves and looked at such children as their won, they will be able to corporate even with their parents to facilitate a permanent solution. Adults should realise that what affects the children around them may also affect them directly or indirectly. For instance, a child who is a victim of domestic violence may decide to practice what he or she saw with your very own child and ultimately hurting them. Such children may also grow up and develop some criminal behaviour, which will in turn impart negatively on the society. We realise that it is not just our responsibility to take care of all children but also protect us from such an a looming danger. Just because a child is not mine, it will not imply that a leave them to suffer because of domestic violence related cases.
DeVoe, E. R., & Smith, E. L. (2002). The impact of domestic violence on urban preschool children: Battered mothers’ perspectives. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 17(10), 1075-1101.
Edleson, J. L. (1999). Children’s witnessing of adult domestic violence. Journal of interpersonal violence, 14(8), 839-870.
Garbarino, J. (2001). Lost boys: Why our sons turn violent and how we can save them. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 71(2), 167-181.
Holden, G. W. (2003). Children exposed to domestic violence and child abuse: Terminology and taxonomy. Clinical child and family psychology review, 6(3), 151-160.
Koenen, K. C., Moffitt, T. E., Caspi, A., Taylor, A., & Purcell, S. (2003). Domestic violence is associated with environmental suppression of IQ in young children. Development and psychopathology, 15(02), 297-311.