Social Science Update: How does intimate partner violence and other family violence affect children?

In 2011, social scientists did a study to examine children’s exposure to intimate partner violence and other family violence. The study focused on psychological violence between parents, including threats and displaced aggression such as punching a wall, and violence involving other family members, such as a parent or child hitting a child. The study looked at the past year and lifetimes of 4,500 children in four different age groups: 0-5, 6-9, 10-13, and 14-17.

The study found that 6.6% of children had been exposed to some form of assault between the parents in the past year. 5.7% of children were exposed to psychological or emotional intimate partner violence in the past year. 90.1% of children were eyewitnesses to physical intimate partner violence and 72.7% were eyewitnesses to psychological and emotional intimate partner violence. The perpetrators in 78% of adult versus adult intimate partner violence incidents were males, with fathers accounting for the largest group for assault and brothers forming the next largest group.

When faced with this intimate partner violence, almost 50% of child observers yelled to try to stop the violence and 43.9% tried to escape. Nearly 25% of children called for help.