How does Domestic Violence Affect Children’s Development in School

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My fieldwork was done at Bolton Refuge House where women can go to seek refuge from an abuser and escape a situation of domestic violence. The mission of Bolton Refuge House is to offer tools that will empower victims and create a safe environment for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Bolton Refuge House has an emergency shelter that is available for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault who do not feel safe in their own homes. In addition, there is an advocate on duty 24 hours a day who can help victims through difficult situations.

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Bolton Refuge House also offers a support staff to help survivors through barriers they are facing. Literature Review Domestic violence affects many lives. Whether you are a victim, a witness, or a friend of someone experiencing domestic violence, it can deeply affect lives. Domestic violence occurs when an individual purposefully causes harm or threatens the risk of harm to anyone in the home. Abuse often occurs in a pattern of controlling and forceful behavior, however, any initial episode of abuse is also a cause for concern.

Violence can vary in frequency and severity. Some common abusive tactics that are used can include physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, individuals may also experience, stalking, terrorizing, blame, hurt, humiliation, manipulation, and intentional isolation from social supports and family. Women are typically the victims of domestic violence, while males are many times the perpetrator, however, that is not always the cases. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men in the United States experience abuse. Gender-Based violence occurs when a particular sex or gender identity is targeted by abuse. Members of the LGBT community not only are victims of abuse but also have additional barriers to getting the help they may need. Such barriers include ambiguous wording in legal documents, the risk of rejection from homophobia, and not having LGBT friendly resources. Children are often silent victims of domestic violence, however, some are directly injured. Children with exposure to domestic violence are more likely to have experienced emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse, and community violence. The abuse that people experience at home can affect life outside of the home as well.

Most often it is the children who act out at school who come from tough home situations. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to get in trouble at school and have behavioral problems, including being aggressive and bullying their classmates. For example, Instead of asking for help, they’ll start being disruptive or they’ll ask to go to the bathroom for the 15th time. And when they can’t, they’ll raise their voices. Moreover, children who witness domestic violence are more likely to get in trouble at school and have behavioral problems, including being aggressive and bullying their classmates. This is thought to be because school is where they can feel powerful, and when they are at home they feel powerless. Even though violence often takes place outside of the classroom, the repercussions resonate in the classroom. The damage is apparent when comparing test scores as well as a lower rate of attending college and graduating. The impact of domestic violence even extends past years in school. For example, effects can be seen in lower earnings later in life. According to the article Domino Effect by Scott E. Carrell and Mark L. Hoekstra, about 10-20 percent of school children are exposed to domestic violence each year. The article also states that such exposure can lead to aggressive behavior, decreased social competence, and diminished academic performance.

Furthermore, Carrell and Hoekstra report the results of their study on how children who experience domestic violence perform in the classroom and they measured negative spillovers caused by troubled children. As a result of their research, Carrell and Hoekstra found that children from troubled families (measured by families that experience domestic violence) perform notably worse on their standardized reading and mathematics exams and are consequentially much more likely to have disciplinary infractions and/or become suspended from school than other students who are not exposed to domestic violence. In addition, they found that an increase in the number of children from troubled families reduces peer student math and reading test scores and increases peer disciplinary infractions and suspensions. The effects on academic achievement are most seen in the students and families of higher social economic status, contrasting to the effects on behavior being more evident with students and families of lower social economic status. The results of their study give evidence that, in many cases, even just one disruptive student can indeed influence the academic success and progress made by an entire classroom of students.

Witnessing the trauma of domestic violence can harm children of all ages. According to the Centers for Disease Control, exposure to these harmful experiences is linked to chronic health issues and a shorter life expectancy. When children are exposed to these traumatic experiences in the home, a child’s best hope is to have a good relationship with other caregivers or guardians. According to the non-profit Domestic Shelters, children need to experience caring and compassionate relationships. Furthermore, Neena McConnico, MD, director of the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center emphasizes that, Caregivers and providers need to support and facilitate healthy, positive, nurturing relationships with safe adults, whether that’s the nonviolent caregiver or other family members involved with caring for the child. We know from our experienceand there’s a host of literature and research to support itthat when kids are able to be grounded in these kinds of relationships it’s the single most important indicator for them to be able to heal and thrive. In addition, Neena McConnico believes that there are several ways that anyone can help domestic violence when they know someone that it is affecting.

One way to help is to just be with them. McConnico stresses that, It’s quality over quantity. It can be small moments as simple as reading a book with a child. It’s more about trying to build upon moments of connection. It can be cooking together, it could be just having a conversation about the dayanything that helps to foster mutual connection and mutual joy and happiness, says McConnico. Moreover, fostering meaningful relationships is important for everyone to feel safe and valued as a person. Fieldwork Experience and Fieldwork Notes Due to the nature of the Bolton Refuge House, a lot of information needs to be kept confidential. This is because of the client’s safety. It is also important to them at the Bolton Refuge House that no one confirms or denys anyone being present or not present in the building at any given time. As a result, I will not be able to share some of the personal things that I had learned or talked about with clients in my fieldwork notes. However, I will explain some of my duties there and some of the things I took away from this experience. Many times that I go to volunteer at the Bolton Refuge House I will do lots of cleaning and housework chores. For example, everything that comes in as a donation needs to be processed for bed bugs. So something I will do is organize donations and process them in. I will also sit at the front where all the security cameras are and keep an eye on the parking lot. Often times a client will come up and ask about where something is kept, or sometimes they will just want to talk.

Furthermore, all the doors are locked at all times, so sometimes I need to just watch the cameras and press buttons to unlock doors if clients are coming and going. Another form of donations is in food, to process the food we wrap them and date them. Discussion, Analysis, and Conclusion This project can inform the communitiy that there is domestic violence happening all around them if they’re not aware of it. Also, if they’re in need of help or resources for domestic violence, our poster has some resources. This project gave me a lot of insight into education and teaching, it showed me first hand that things are not always the way that they look. There may be children in my classroom that are dressed well and look well taken care of, but they could also be living out of a refuge house due to domestic violence in the home. It also taught me the importance of just speaking to people as people to show them that you value them as a person, not the situation they’re going through. I would like to explore more on what teachers in specific can do in the classroom to make all students feel loved and safe in the classroom. I also learned how important the role is as a teaher. As a teacher, I may be the only adult/role model/ person in authority that cares about and provides a safe place for a student. This project opened my eyes to the many hats that educators must wear to be successful and effective for their students.

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How Does Domestic Violence Affect Children's Development in School. (2019, Nov 04). Retrieved from