Approximately one in five women seeking pediatric care for their children at an urban clinic recently disclosed that they and their children had been abused or exposed to domestic violence — a finding that echoes the results of several similar studies conducted nationwide. The finding is the result of a new study published in a recent edition of the journal Pediatrics.
According to authors of this latest study, domestic violence and childhood exposure to domestic violence are common and understood to negatively impact the health and well being of women and their children. Routine screening by healthcare professionals often confirms women’s experience and helps link these women and children with needed services, but health care professionals don’t always screen for domestic violence. Additionally, researchers say this study is one of few to actually examine the extent of children’s exposure to domestic violence. Historically, much domestic violence research has focused exclusively on the mother’s abuse.
In the present study, roughly 60% of women stated that their children had been directly exposed to violence in the home — that violence ranged in scope from pushing to the abusive use of a knife or gun.
Researchers note that the benefits and risks of screening need to be studied further, and that effective interventions to stop domestic violence when it is found to be occurring are needed. The physical health effects of domestic violence on children are also not yet completely understood.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also studies the public health effects of domestic violence on children, and has published a compilation of Victimization Assessment Instruments designed for health professionals to employ in healthcare settings to screen for the presence and severity of domestic abuse in the home.
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