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revised January 27, 2012
Family Violence

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In Children

When children are exposed to domestic violence, they may begin to experience a range of emotional, behavioural and psychological problems. Find out how exposure to violence may affect your child during different stages of their life.


Infants
(birth to one year)

  • Developmental delays: The first year with a new baby is a challenging time for parents. The infant requires almost constant care and attention.  Just as positive early experiences help a child’s brain grow and develop, children’s exposure to violence in the home may lead to serious emotional, behavioural and learning problems later in life. While children grow and develop at different rates, there are common development milestones that parents should watch for in their children.
  • Attachment issues: During the first year it is critical that the baby develops a firm bond with the caregiver. This is known as attachment. Research has shown that the more serious the level of partner violence, the higher the likelihood of insecure attachments. (Zeanah et al, 1999)
  • Excessive crying.

If you have any concerns about your child’s development or well being, please speak to your family doctor. You can also call Peel Health at 905-799-7700 to speak to a Public Health Nurse.

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Pre-school
(2-5 years)

  • Sleeping and eating difficulties (e.g., fear of falling asleep, nightmares, loss of appetite)
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Aggressive behaviours (e.g., hitting, biting, kicking, screaming)
  • Bedwetting
  • Excessive clinging or concern when a parent leaves
  • Destruction of property (e.g., toys or other objects)
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Pre-Adolescent
(6-12 years)

  • Aggressive behaviour (e.g., fighting in school with peers or bullying)
  • Withdrawn from others and activities (at home or at school)
  • Poor grades at school/ trouble concentrating.
  • Sadness that lasts for days
  • Disrespectful behaviour towards family and/or peers (e.g., swearing, yelling, threats)
  • Destruction of property (e.g., toys or other objects)
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Adolescence
(13-14 years)

  • Aggressive behaviour (e.g., fighting in school with peers or bullying)
  • Poor self esteem. Violence at home may raise feelings of guilt and/or and shame, which can negatively impact teens’ feelings of self-worth.
  • Frequent alcohol and/or drug use.
  • Running away from home
  • Disrespectful/abusive behaviour towards family, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends (e.g., swearing, yelling, threats, hitting and/or pushing)
  • Development of eating disorders (e.g., anorexia, bulimia), particularly in girls.
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Late Adolescence
(15-18 years)

  • Disrespectful/abusive behaviour towards family, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends (e.g., swearing, yelling, threats, hitting or pushing)
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Running away from home
  • Poor self-esteem. Violence at home may raise feelings of guilt and/or and shame, which can negatively impact teens’ feelings of self-worth
  • Decline in school achievement and attendance

For more information on Family Violence call:
Peel Health at 905-799-7700



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