Washington, April 7: Children witness a lot of domestic violence that is often not reported to the police, a study finds.
A study of children who have witnessed domestic violence found that just one in four incidents resulted in police reports and a smaller fraction of offenders went to jail.
“One of the most shocking findings is that less than two percent of the cases resulted in jail time for the perpetrator,” said lead researcher Sherry Hamby, a psychology research professor at Sewanee-University of the South in the US.
Children were physically hurt in one in 75 cases but they experienced fear and anxiety much more often.
More than half of the children said they were afraid someone would be hurt badly, and almost two in five said the violence was one of their scariest experiences ever.
Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, nightmares, and disruptions with schoolwork, Hamby noted.
The trauma can be very similar to when children experience abuse themselves, she added.
Family violence definitely cuts across all segments of society and has a serious impact on children, Hamby observed.
They get worried that if their parent is in danger then who is going to protect them.
The nationwide study included 517 children who had witnessed domestic violence, including beating, hitting or kicking of a parent or caregiver.
Three in four children saw the violence, 21 percent heard it and three percent saw the injuries later.
The study contradicted stereotypes that domestic violence is more prevalent in low-income or minority households.
The study was published in the journal Psychology of Violence.