Identifying Children Affected by Domestic Violence
Children who live with domestic violence have been called the "silent" or "hidden" victims of violence because their presence is often overlooked by the parents/caregivers or unknown by observers and professionals. Adult victims may be hesitant to disclose to police, hospital staff, or child welfare workers that their children have seen the violence. This may be due to embarrassment, fear of retaliation or harm, or fear that their children might be removed from their care by Child Protective Services. Professionals who come in contact with these children and families may not ask about children's exposure to domestic violence because they are wary of offending caregivers or because they do not know what to do to help the children they do identify. In these cases, children are not linked with services.
In recent years, however, many service systems have increased their efforts to identify children and provide services to their families. For example:
- Police departments. Many police officers routinely document the presence of children when they respond to calls involving domestic violence and also provide linkages to services.
- Among the NCTSN resources that provide examples of this trend are: Also see: Service System Responses for information on other programs.
- The David and Lucile Packard Foundation funded a series of handbooks about children exposed to violence including:
- Pediatric and family practice settings. Screening and assessment is conducted in these settings.
- Early child care settings. Children are identified and supported.
- Middle and high schools. Information and resources on teen dating violence and safety in relationships.
- Primary and secondary schools. Information on identifying and supporting children who have been exposed to domestic violence.