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Report: Children the Forgotten Victims of Domestic Violence

October 6, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Ohio is being used to draw attention to the often silent victims of the crime - children. Barbara Turpin, policy advocate with the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, says children who only witness domestic violence experience emotional and mental problems similar to those of children who are physically abused.

"The mental and emotional scarring may not be as visible, but it's certainly there, and it can have long-term effects on a child's life as they progress into adulthood."

Turpin says these children can be at high risk for eventual unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, or suicide. She says that by ensuring they get the help they need, the cycle of domestic violence can be stopped once they become adults.

"Committing violence against their own partners, that can be a cycle, and there is a creation of a continuous generation of victims and child witnesses."

Turpin says that in 2008 there were an estimated 67,000 children in Ohio who witnessed domestic violence. A new report on the issue from Turpin's group calls for a standardized system of reporting domestic violence that includes children, and better intra-state cooperation between intervention and prevention organizations.

Turpin adds there is also a need for adequate funding for these organizations and programs, which are currently facing cuts.

"That's a very big barrier right now. Even the services that had been in place, like shelters and counseling services, are being affected by the current budget."

According to the report, it was estimated in 2006 that the cost of family violence in Ohio was more than 1.1 billion dollars in health care and social services.

The full report is available at www.childrensdefense.org/ohio

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH