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Study: One in Four Kids Exposed to Violence at Home

November 3, 2011

PHOENIX, Ariz. - At least one in four children has been exposed to physical violence between their parents at some point in their life, and more than 10 percent of them witnessed this violence in the past year. The findings are in a new report released by the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

Heather Turner, the report co-principal investigator and co-author, is a University of New Hampshire sociology professor. She says a large majority of the children were direct eyewitnesses.

"They actually saw the violence happen. That's very important - this is really quite a devastating thing for kids, to witness violence between parents."

About half the youngsters told researchers they yelled at the adults to stop. Almost as many said they tried to get away, she explains.

The study involved more than 4,500 children around the country. The researchers documented their exposure to physical, sexual and emotional abuse and abuse from multiple sources, including peers, siblings and caregivers.

In today's world, kids often have a variety of caregivers - hence, more opportunities for exposure to domestic violence, Turner adds.

"They have a biological mother and father; they may have step-parents, a grandparent or perhaps an aunt or uncle. And boyfriends or girlfriends of a parent may live in the home or spend quite a bit of time in the home."

Male parents and caregivers were identified as the perpetrators of violence almost 70 percent of the time, and female parent figures were identified 23 percent of the time. The study suggests that about 18 million children have been exposed to some form of family violence in their lifetime.

"Children's Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Other Family Violence" is available at

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ