Children Who Witness Abuse

15 March

Imagine you are a small child lying in bed and all of a sudden you wake with your heart pounding and you hear the familiar noises from downstairs. You know what is going on and you start to worry about your Mom, “is she going to be okay?” Then you start to if you will be hurt.

According to each year in Canada, an estimated 362,000 children witness or experience family violence. Health Canada says that children exposed to woman abuse can experience a variety of problems regardless of their age.

Many people think children are oblivious to the violence because it happens when they are sleeping or behind closed doors. And although they may not experience actual physical abuse many may develop long term behavioral and psychological problems as a result of this exposure.

Some would say that if children are witnessing abuse they should be removed from the home. The dynamics of woman abuse and child exposure to intimate partner violence are much more complex. Experience shows that greater safety is created for children when a Mom who is being abused by her partner reaches out for safety and emotional support while attending to her children’s needs. Of course if the child is at risk of harm or has been abused, CAS must be notified due to Duty to Report legislation in Ontario (Child and Family Service Act). The CAS works to protect children from physical and emotional harm, promote their wellbeing and support families to stay safe and acquire the resources to break free from the cycle of abuse.

Violence prevention can be very effective especially in programs in elementary and high schools and this education must start early. We can all play a role in helping children by denouncing violence against women and role modeling gender equality.