Children Who Witness Violence at Home

“Interpersonal violence, especially violence experienced by children, is the largest single preventable cause of mental illness.”

Steve Sharfstein, 2006.

In De-Medicalising Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Human Condition , Chapter 9 – Children Who Witness Violence at Home – is written by clinical psychologist Arlene Vetere. It begins:

“The effects of witnessing violence in their own homes are well-documented to have adverse effects on the psychological development of many children … In our experience of working systematically in our domestic-violence project, it is often the children who call for help during an attack, and who take on responsibility for family safety, beyond their years and their maturity. Such children can often develop social, moral and interpersonal competence in this context, alongside other potentially deleterious emotional effects, such as the risk of traumatic responses.

…. trauma responses may not be recognized by family members, educators and mental health professionals, either because they are masked, hidden, or not easily understood. And there lies the rub, as these trauma responses may then be misinterpreted, and this could lead to children and families not receiving trauma services but, rather, being diagnosed with some variety of ‘childhood mental disorder’ …”

You can read more within Chapter 9 of the book concerned.

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