According to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV), there were 105,500 crimes of domestic violence reported in Florida in 2016. FCADV says that many more survivors of domestic violence never report their abusers to police and social services, leading to continued violence in the home. For children and babies living in homes where domestic violence occurs, the impacts can have both short-term and long-term effects.
Even if children do not directly witness actual violence, they can be exposed to domestic violence indirectly by witnessing the aftermath. Parental injuries, property damage, and emotional changes of the parent(s) are clues that effect even very young children. While children may appear resilient, a recent study by Tulane University suggests that domestic violence changes the children’s DNA. The long-term effects of toxic stress through domestic violence could negatively impact the child’s behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, and their understanding of relationships.
The good news is that children’s brains can be rewired to heal through positive experiences, therapy, and exposure to positive adult relationships. Through education, parents may also change their behavior if they realize how damaging violence in the home is to their children. Early care-giving and healthy adult relationships is key for positive brain development in children, resulting in the child’s increased ability to self-regulate, self-sooth, and become successful adults later in life.
Watch the video below for more information on the effects of exposure to domestic violence on young children. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, get help by contacting The National Domestic Abuse Hotline. Learn more about how you can help provide a nurturing and caring environment for children through Florida’s Whole Child programs.