In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Domestic Violence

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Online Sources
  • History
  • Prevalence
  • Abuse in Young People’s Relationships
  • Forced Marriage
  • Interventions
  • Refuges and Community Projects
  • Support in Overcoming Harm
  • Resources for Children and Young People
  • Scotland
  • Europe
  • Canada and the United States

Childhood Studies Domestic Violence
Lorraine Radford
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 November 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0057


Although the true extent of the problem is unknown, child victimization surveys worldwide show that a significant number of children and young people live in homes where a parent, most often the mother, suffers domestic violence from a partner. Children living with domestic violence are vulnerable because of increased risk of also experiencing direct abuse and neglect from the domestic violence perpetrator and the harmful consequences that exposure to domestic violence can have on their health, development, and psychological and emotional well-being. There is considerable debate about the extent to which growing up with domestic violence can have adverse consequences that last into adulthood, particularly over whether or not research supports the “cycle of violence” view whereby children are seen as more prone to be victims or perpetrators themselves when adults. Research evidence is rapidly growing on how best to respond to safeguard and protect children from domestic violence, but studies of primary prevention are limited. Most of the research has focused on domestic violence to a parent, but recently there has been growing recognition of the frequent occurrence of domestic violence in young people’s own intimate partner relationships.

General Overviews

While it is widely accepted that domestic violence reemerged as an issue of public concern in the early 1970s in the United Kingdom (see History), the key texts on children living with domestic violence did not appear until the early 1990s. A new body of research that specifically explored children’s experiences and perspectives emerged and has since blossomed. The earlier texts, such as Jaffe, et al. 1990 and McGee 2000, challenged conventional thinking that children are unaffected by their parents’ relationship by looking at the health and psychological well-being of children living in domestic violence refuges or shelters. More recent overviews such as Mullender, et al. 2002; Graham-Bermann and Edelson 2001; and Stanley 2011 draw on broader community samples of children and young people and expand the focus from the harm done to consider protective and mitigating factors.

  • Graham-Bermann, Sandra A., and Jeffrey L. Edelson, eds. Domestic Violence in the Lives of Children: The Future of Research, Intervention, and Social Policy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1037/10408-000

    An overview of international research, policy, and practice developments on children and domestic violence.

  • Jaffe, Peter G., David A. Wolfe, and Susan Kaye Wilson. Children of Battered Women. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE, 1990.

    This text is based on interviews with abused mothers and assessments of their children in Canadian domestic violence shelters. It is widely cited as the first to investigate the psychological harm done to children by domestic violence. The authors argue that children are rarely passive witnesses.

  • McGee, Caroline. Childhood Experiences of Domestic Violence. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2000.

    Children’s and mothers’ views of living with domestic violence based on in-depth interviews with National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) family service users.

  • Mullender, Audrey, Gill Hague, Umme Imam, Liz Kelly, Ellen Malos, and Linda Regan. Children’s Perspectives on Domestic Violence. London: SAGE, 2002.

    Comprehensive research in the United Kingdom on children’s views and experiences of domestic violence. The book considers school pupils’ attitudes toward domestic violence as well as the views and experiences of children and young people who have been affected.

  • Stanley, Nicky. Children Experiencing Domestic Violence: A Research Review. Totnes, UK: Research in Practice, 2011.

    Written primarily for practitioners who work with children and young people in the United Kingdom, this publication provides a recent review of research on the nature, prevalence, and impact of domestic violence on children and young people, including interventions and responses.

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