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Domestic Violence has a Significant Impact on Children’s Social Learning

— January 25, 2023

Violence at home hinders children’s social development and can have a lasting negative impact on their lives.

Domestic violence can significantly hinder development in adolescents and children where they are direct victims of abuse or witness it in their home. Social learning requires role models to show children how they can and should act in any given scenario. Of course, it would seem intuitively true that this is the case, but trying to understand the reasons why some families don’t have positive role models, as well as the difficulties endured by many children and their families, is necessary to remedy the problems and navigate the realities of adolescent social development.

By social learning and social development, experts are referring to interpersonal learning that children will go through before they reach adulthood. Adolescents learn to take on more roles and responsibilities as they grow, leaving the limited roles and carefree existence of childhood behind. As they expand their social networks, they will learn about different situations and different expectations that will challenge them to adapt and continue their journey of growth. Their social roles will change and expand as they move along the path of becoming an adult.  

In ideal cases, children will have caring, understanding parents and other adults in their lives who will set positive examples and teach them how to behave as well as how to handle life’s ups and downs. As children continue to grow and develop into young adults, they will hopefully have some assistance using the collected knowledge and wisdom they’ve acquired in order to incorporate this into their own interpersonal skills. However, this isn’t always the case.

Domestic Violence has a Significant Impact on Children's Social Learning
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Many children grow up in non-ideal situations. Some homes are toxic and some children will have to somehow develop into stable adults on their own or with the help of some outside assistance. Proper social development is not easy in these cases, but if the child can find outside resources to assist them and be open to breaking the cycle of violence, disadvantaged youth can have a better chance of garnering healthy social relationships.  

Unfortunately, for too many children, stable families are not a guarantee in this world.  Some children endure very difficult situations, including abuse and neglect. Having to deal with domestic violence can make growing up very difficult and scary. Somehow, the children who experience this will have to find a way to develop normally despite everything and learn the skills they need in order to so they can become functioning adults. When outside advocates can intervene early on, this gives disadvantage youth the best possible chance of thriving.

Disruptive and violent family situations can be serious barriers standing in the way of a child’s development. And the number of homes that experience this toxic type of family interaction is alarming. According to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, 1 in 4 women experience intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetimes.  Mothers who experience this violence have higher instances of depression as well as increased use of violence in their own actions, particularly when it comes to punishing their children. This cycle of violence can be very destructive to the family unit, as well as to each and every member of that unit. One hopes that society can stop this cycle and provide a safe and nurturing place for all children to fully develop and grow into happy, healthy adults.


Children Who Grow Up Around Domestic Abuse Have Poorer Social Development 

Social Development

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