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Literature Review

Domestic Violence and Children’s Education

Children exposed to domestic violence has a variety of effects on a child. However, schools are the one place where children feel safe and are away from the violence they are experiencing in their homes. Our topic is how domestic violence affects a child’s academic performance, and the strategies that can be used to help a child cope with these experiences. We were interested in finding strategies that can be used by school staff to identify and approach the situation, since school is the one place the child may feel comfortable to open up about what they may be going through. The following articles provide statistics and insight towards identifying domestic abuse, outcomes of domestic abuse as well as intervention strategies to assist a child that has experience domestic abuse. These articles emphasize the effects of domestic abuse on a child as well as the importance of providing the child and family with the appropriate help necessary.


Statistics & Identifying

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2001), of the children surveyed, 38.7% of them had experienced some type of victimization in the past year. This data was collected through interviews, telephone surveys and questionnaires. The survey questions also addressed witnesses to violence. After a year, the survey participants were asked to answer follow up questions. Of the original participants, 49% responded to the follow up surveys. This information is important because it gives us an idea of how the magnitude of children are faced with violence every day as well as the various ways to help them cope.


According to Fickelhor(2011), there are many different ways a teacher or school  professional can identify and help a student who has experienced violence or trauma. There are two types of trauma that can affect a child: physical and mental.Some red flags to look for are children who refuse to go to places that remind them of certain events, children who seem emotionally numb, children who show little to no reaction to a traumatic event and children who show extreme or dangerous reaction. Children who react in these ways may need extra help to overcome the trauma. These children and adolescents can benefit from therapy, and also establishing new routines and coping mechanisms to help the child feel in control. Children who have experienced any type of trauma should be encouraged to talk about their feelings, but never feel pressured or feel that their feelings are going to be used against them. While some children may react to an event immediately showing changes in behavior, other reactions may appear much later in other children. Reactions to trauma also vary greatly by age. Although the National Institute of Mental Health addressed many ways to identify and assist students who have faced natural disasters and terror attacks, there is not much information about children who have experienced violence in the home. This is important to know because what happens at home often has an effect on a child’s behavior and performance in school.



The study by Eckenrode, Laird & Doris was conducted in order to find out what are the negative outcomes from abuse on children who attend schools. Studies found out that children who are abused are more likely to perform badly as well as to have discipline problems which lead to referrals and suspension from school. Test scores have also proved that children who are abused have issues in achieving good results as well as grades in school in areas such as Math and English. Other studies have proved that children who are abused are many times bullies toward other children. Not only children are performing badly in school but they also have many psychological problems as well as behavior problems, therefore there is an extremely negative impact on children who are abused regarding their education.


Assistance & Intervention

This article (Thompson 2012) focuses on how schools provide help to children who are abused, by creating support programs for children as well as assistance including psychologists and the school- mental health programs that are offered to children. When children have assistance they are able to rely on someone, the research show ways to help children such as by drawing to show their emotions and expressing themselves in order for professionals to help them. They believe in structured interventions, play therapy in order to find out why and if the child is being abused and to provide them the best help thanks to their school.


Chanmugam and Teasley focus on the importance to understand the experiences, need, and resources related to children exposed to adult intimate partner violence, also known as adult IPV.  They looked at the types of exposure, risk and resilience factors, the issues faced at school and the strategies and resources for help. Aside from school social workers, it is also important that school staffs are aware and trained in IPV-related policies and procedures as well as protocol for protection and custody orders. They explain the risk factors towards children, while some children may be resilient at home, they can struggle in the classroom and among their peers. For others, school has become the only aspect of their life they have control over and it is their safe place. They also provide resources for social workers to refer parents to.


Pepler, Catallo and Moore look at the forms of intervention for children exposed to domestic violence. They learn that 3 to 5 children in every classroom is exposed to domestic violence and these children, if males, are at a three times higher risk of becoming abusers themselves. These children are also at risk for both internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. They first look at all relationships the child may experience within the family, school, peers and community. They then focus on a peer counselling program for children exposed to family violence and its effect on children’s behavioral and psychological adjustment. Through these studies, they found that the peer group counselling had a positive effect and provided support to children exposed to family violence.


Through these articles, we learned that children can experience both physical and mental trauma. The academic outcomes of children who experience domestic violence can include, struggling academically while others may succeed academically. They also provide the reactions and behaviors that teachers should be on the lookout for to identify if a child is experiencing domestic violence at home. The intervention strategies provided include play therapy, structured interventions, peer group counseling as well as providing parents with assistance necessary. They also emphasize the importance of training school staff in protocol and procedures for domestic violence related situations.


Although there have been many developments in research about the effects of violence on children, we plan to further explore the techniques and delve deeper into the ways we can identify and assist children in coping with violence. This research is important because children with unresolved trauma are more susceptible to violence in the future.



Chanmugam, A., & Teasley, M. L. (2014). What should school social workers know about children exposed to adult intimate partner violence? Oxford University Press / USA. doi:10.1093/cs/cdu023

Eckenrode, J., & Laird, M. (1993). School performance and disciplinary problems among abused and neglected children. Developmental Psychology, 29(1), 53. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9301140840&site=ehost-live

Finkelhor, David, Heather Turner, Sherry Hamby, and Richard Ormrod. Polyvictimization: Children’s Exposure to Multiple Types of Violence, Crime, and Abuse (2011). Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/235504.pdf

National Institute of Mental Health. (2001). Helping children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters. Retrieved from http://permanent.access.gpo.gov.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/lps35195/violence.pdf

Pepler, D. J., Catallo, R., & Moore, T. E. (2000). Consider the children: Research informing interventions for children exposed to domestic violence. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 3(1), 37-57. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.ez-proxy.brooklyn.cuny.edu:2048/login.aspx?direct=true&db=sih&AN=25233328&site=ehost-live

Thompson, E., & Trice-Black, S. (2012). School-based group interventions for children exposed to domestic violence. Journal of Family Violence, 27(3), 233-241. doi:10.1007/s10896-012-9416-6

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