Preventing Domestic Violence Exposure to Children

To stop child maltreatment at the source, efforts must be made not only to educate the general public but parents who are at higher risk of causing maltreatment as well. Within this population are parents engaged in domestic violence which children are exposed to. We have discussed before how domestic violence affects children in the home. Now, in our new Child Maltreatment Prevention textbook, efforts are outlined as to how domestic violence can be prevented, which can also prevent harm to children in the home.

Universal Approach

The universal approach, aimed at the entire population, focuses on educational programs catered to a large number of individuals to lessen the likelihood of domestic violence.  These programs promote positive parenting, shift beliefs and attitudes about violence, and build relational and communication skills. With use of educational and media programs, these points can accomplish the goals of reaching as many people as possible to deter them away from violence in intimate relationships.

Selective Approach

This approach targets parents at key transition points, such as right before or after the birth of a child, who also fall into a high-risk population for domestic violence in regards to both victimization and perpetration. Unlike the universal approach, selective programs involve a more one-on-one engagement, such as with a health care professional and expecting mothers. Engagement can include screening for domestic violence through questions and home visiting programs, as well as community-based programs for expecting fathers who are at higher risk for perpetrating violence.

Indicated Approach

Reports of domestic violence and child exposure require an indicated approach. Since preventing exposure is not an option, preventing further damage is the focus of this approach. Intervention programs, child-parent psychotherapy, and emotional adjustment in children ensures lasting healing and coping. Since studies indicate there is a  greater likelihood of a child becoming a perpetrator after domestic violence exposure, this approach also can overlap with the selective approach.

The first book in our two-volume set, Research and Practices in Child Maltreatment Prevention seeks to provide information to set the groundwork in prevention policies. If you are a professional who works to do better for children and families, you may be interested in this title. For more information on what we do, visit our website or subscribe to our newsletter.


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