Publication Date

5-19-1999

Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Susan Murphy

Second Advisor

Gail Marculescu

Abstract

Statement of Problem: Although witnessing violence in the family may account for many symptoms brought to the attention of the primary care providers, such violence is seldom identified as an issue. The purpose of this study was to assess the incidence of children witnessing violence in the home, as self reported by victims of domestic violence in a clinical setting. Method: The study was a retrospective chart review. Data was gathered from a survey administered to individuals identified in the emergency department as victims of domestic violence. The survey addressed demographics, child witnesses to violence, and co-factors of violence including child abuse, alcohol use and weapons in the home. Results: Out of the 120 participants, the highest proportion was categorized as single/divorced. This study found that 75% of the children witnessed domestic violence in the home, as self-reported by victims of domestic violence. The mean age of the children was 8.4 years. The incidence of concurrent child abuse was 19%. The victims of domestic violence self-reported a much higher rate of alcohol use by the perpetrator as compared to their own alcohol use. Conclusion: The findings indicate that children as witnesses to domestic violence is alarmingly high. Universal screening by health care providers ensures that not only are adult victims identified, but also the needs of the children are not overlooked. It is mandatory to identify children living in violent homes so their emotional and physical health can be preserved at the earliest developmental age possible.

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