Does Domestic Violence/Abuse Affect a Childs’ Behaviour and Future Development?

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This assignment aims to critically analyse three primary research journal articles that were chosen to assist answering the research question: Does domestic violence/abuse have an influence on affecting a childs’ behaviour and future development?

Domestic Violence is an interest for my current academic development as well as future career of social work as I will be carrying many cases based around this as I discovered though my placement experiences. Through research I found, domestic abuse is currently a rising issue in the UK as statistics from the Home Office (2015) revealed that an estimated 1.1 million female victims have reportedly experienced domestic violence in the past year, this figure has now risen to 1.3 million female victims in the year 2017 and which is currently on the rise too. The reported statistics state the abuse can be sexual/physical, financial or emotional abuse (Home Office 2015). Crime Survey England and Wales (CSEW 2015) report that women are more likely than men to experience intimate violence.

Research is crucial factor of being able to make evidence based decisions in practice, primarily base on all the evidence presented infront of you to make a final decision. This also relates to being able to critically appraise literature by weighing up both advantages and disadvantages of methods, which is an important skill to acquire in practice (Sackett et al 1996). Critical appraisal is the method of carefully and systematically examining evidence such as research journals or articles to judge its credibility, relevance and significance in a particular context, in this case being domestic violence. It allows professionals to use research evidence reliably and efficiently to make decisions that are solely based on evidence (Aveyard and Sharp 2013).

To find the best research articles possible, I conducted a search strategy, which is presented in the form of search strategy table to record my findings, this shows the inclusions/exclusions in my searches on the different databases, this allowed me to identify what phrases could be altered to acquire different results.

My first search result was simple with the terms used, the search included phrases; “domestic abuse” and “effects of childs’ behaviour”. This search brought up a large number of unrelated materials as the figure in the last column of the table indicates, in order to narrow these results down to more relevant sources; I applied search filters for a second search shown in the second column, for this I used the same database; ProQuest. The filters used were more relevant to my research question, filters such as ‘child’, ‘youth’ and ‘violence’ were used to narrow down the results, as well as this, I decided I only wanted to analyse research papers that were conducted in the UK, therefore the filters were narrowed down to UK and English language. I also limited the search to only show peer reviewed articles as this will allow the authenticity to be more validity than if the journals were not peer reviewed (Aveyard 2014), the fact a journal has been ‘peer reviewed’ allows me to know it has been through the process of being checked by a group of research experts in the same field of subject to ensure it meets the necessary standards and its content is relevant before publishing as Sharp (2013) states.

From the search I found three research articles to help answer my research question, these journals are as follows; Keeping the focus on children: the challenges of safeguarding children affected by domestic abuse, Trotter et al (2015). Beyond the Physical Incident Model: How Children Living with Domestic Violence are Harmed By and Resist Regimes of Coercive Control, Katz (2016) and The mental health of children who witness domestic violence, Doos et al (2009). After reading the aims of each I found I had to disregard a previous article and re-visit the ProQuest database to conduct another search in order to find an article that was more appropriate in assisting to answer my research question, this is presented in the last column of my search strategy table.

To enable me to analyse the findings from my chosen research articles I conduced a critical review on each research paper using the CASP critical appraisal tool (CASP 2013), (see appendix 2), from this I will be going into depth with 3 of these questions to appraise the findings from the three papers, these questions being; 3, 4 and 7 from the table.

All three research articles used an appropriate design of methodology to obtain their findings form the research. All three articles used a Qualitative approach of methodology to conduct their research, as well as Doos et al (2009) article which consisted of Quantitative method within the research of the study as well. Trotter at al (2015) used structured interviews and focus groups to obtain their information as well as Katz (2016), who used semi-structured interviews, whereas Doos (2009) used both quantitative and qualitative data to conduct their research, by using face-to-face interviews facilitated with open-ended prompts, as well as using a self-completion interview completed on a computer. Using qualitative data to carry out the study allows researchers to be able to gain a lot more information from the participants (Ross 2012), as they are able to elaborate with their answers instead of restricted to ‘yes’ / ‘no’, for example as Trotter et al (2015) conducted five focus groups between mixed professionals within the community, they initially planned to hold six focus groups but this was minimised to five due to recruitment issues as it is stated within the methods parts of the article.

Allowing a number of mixed professionals to attend these focus groups enables researchers to gain different perspectives of the challenges each professional faced when safeguarding children involved and affected by domestic abuse Range et al (2001), professionals included; health and educational staff. If the researcher selected individuals from similar professionals for the focus groups, this would not allow a mixture of opinion and debate to take place retrospectively, the diversity facilitated the researcher to collect large amounts of data, relatively fast, from the five focus groups that took place (Harre et al 1995). As well as being able to collect large amounts of data relatively easy, using questionnaires have advantages such as being easy to analyse, as it is written/typed information and can be clearly seen and remembered, as opposed to methods of interviewing as Doos (2009) carried out with children and Trotter (2015) used in focus groups, the recording of this information through interviewing may have been misinterpreted or forgotten word for word by the researcher, this may result in unreliable results. Hennink and Hutter (2010) explain how some disadvantages of using questionnaires in research involve not being able to going back to the participants if you have forgotten to ask a particular question, especially if they are anonymous, as well as some questions being ignored if they are not understood by the respondent, which could in result affect the sample. Questionnaires are low cost, but are not suitable for complex research purposes as this again may be misinterpreted by the participants due to ambiguous language (Brennan 2012).

All three articles provided a clear statement as to what the reason for their research carried out were by listing aims of what they set out to find. Trotter et al (2015) set out to find the challenges facing professionals in terms of safeguarding children affected by domestic violence (DV). This article would be useful to answering my research question as it would help to identify if gaps in service provision relate with effects of behaviour of children affected by DV. Katz (2016) aimed to establish whether non-violent coercive controlling behavioural could be central to childrens’ experiences of domestic violence or not. This article would allow me to identify what the link actually is between domestic violence occurring within the family household and this impacting the future development of children. The aim of Doos’ (2009) research was to find if consequences of childhood domestic violence are related with mental disorders of witnessing domestic violence. It is important to clearly state in the abstract or beginning of the article what the study will intend to achieve by listing aims and objectives of the study, this will allow reader to instantly recognise if the article is useful for their purpose (Brennan 2012). Trotter et al and Doos et al clearly identified what their aims of the study were, however I had to do further reading into Katz’s article to find out what the aims of this research was, this was then mentioned in the methods of the research, but only briefly. For the ease of the reader, it would be better to give a brief description in the abstract/introduction of the article stating the aims of the study.

The sample size between the three articles slightly varied. Trotter et al (2016) used the smallest sample size of 23 participants from a mixed profession background, specific figures of each profession were not stated within the article from Trotter et al. It could be argued that the data collected from the opinions and views of these participants may have been biased based on their profession as they may have been more participants from the health sector as opposed to educational staff involved in the focus groups which would not be an equal representative of the views of the challenges faced by practitioners dealing with children affected by domestic abuse (Fischer 2011). More professionals within the educational sector may be in contact with children than health workers are, which is usually the case, as teachers, safeguarding staff within schools tend to see children on a daily basis in proportion to mental health workers and nurses, this may result in educational staff witnessing behaviour from children more often as opposed to others.

The sample size for article 2; Katz (2016), was the highest of the three with 30 participants, who consisted of fifteen mothers and fifteen of their children (mostly aged 10-14) from the Midlands region of England in the UK. It could be argued that half of the data collected, from the children, may not be reliable as some children may not have the maturity and resilience to answer questions for the study in a semi-structured interview as Fischer (2011) explains could be the problem for younger participants, which could also question the credibility of the data collected.

The sample size for Doos (2009) consisted of 29 participants these were children chosen systematically throughout England, Wales and Scotland, which were not large quantity, it could be argued that this has therefore limited the data collected to only being from a small proportion of participants. The participants from the first article; Trotter (2015) consisted of being from within the community. The fact the mixed professionals were from within the community may have affected the participation in the focus group, as these professionals may have known one another from working collaboratively, this may have influenced their input during the focus groups and may have resulted in the professionals holding back some information (Morse 1994).

Ethical considerations to take into account from the research articles have been included in the CASP table (see appendix 2). Trotter (2015) study received ethical approval from the University of Huddersfield, and the study was carried out in accordance to the ethical principles, whilst explaining to the participants the reason for the research as well as ensuring participants were kept anonymous, information was kept confidential and establishing informed consent from the participants. The article goes on to state that those professionals that were interested in participating were contacting directly by the researchers and were explained the purpose of the research and once aware were then presented with a sheet consisting of written information about this in writing. The participants were then required to complete and sign a consent form before taking part in the focus group, Trotter (2015) did not however, state that the participants could opt out after signing the consent form which they may have wanted to do after. Neergaard (2007) explains how ethically, the participants should begiven this choice, however, it is unclear whether or not this was done within the study.

Under the Human Rights Act (1998) and International Convention on Human Rights (1948) underlining the universal principles of human rights, all individuals that participated in the studies have the protection of being able to pull out and discontinue being a participant in the research and this should be protected. This is also underlined in the Data Protection Act (1998) which also states that it is the law that the information of the participants should not be kept longer than necessary and for anything other than the purpose intended and stated. All three research articles sought and obtained parental and participant consent where needed for the studies to take place.

Katz (2016) ensured integrity and quality in the ethical principles of her study as she gained approval by the University of Nottingham’s Research Ethics Committee who reviewed and approved the research, which enhanced the credibility of the study and research, as having it peer-reviewed. Katz (2016) was the only researcher that rewarded participants with a £10 gift voucher as an incentive. The Ethics Guide Book (2015) suggests incentive payments can be unethical as they can be seen as coercive, however instead of Katz using money, she chose to use a gift voucher as a reward which is not as coercive.

All participants gave informed consent through signing consent forms. Katz (2016) also ensured that confidentiality of all participants was maintained (Data Protection 1998) by allowing participants to choose their own pseudonyms, this protected the participants from their identity being recognised and ensured anonymity throughout the study.

Ahead of the study Doos (2009) sent out letters to the selected sample from the database to give individuals the choice to take part in the study, these were sent to the guardians of the children as they were aged between 10-14. The research design and interviewing process was granted approval by The Central Office for Research Ethics Committees of the UK. A downside to the recruitment process of Doos (2009) study was that the letter stated to reply only if they did not want their children to take part in the study, failure to reply meant permission was given to be approached by an interviewer. This then raises an important ethical concern as a result of consent not being truly given in some parts of the recruitment process (The Ethics Guide Book 2015).

All three research articles had an important part in answering my initial research question; does domestic abuse have a major influence on affecting a childs’ behaviour and future development? Substantial information can be gathered form all three research articles in terms of answering my research question in particular from Doos et al’s (2009) study. The variety of participants, in regards to age and profession, allowed a wider range of information to be gathered. From Trotters’ (2015) study it was clear that professions did not talk directly to children or young people in terms of prevention of future difficulties in terms of behaviour, this lack of recognition and awareness usually led to strategies of support not being in place for children as a coping mechanism of being around DV within the household.

In conclusion I found the articles were adequate in answering my research question, the answer being; yes, it partially does. The analysis based on the survey of the sample of children showed that children who witnessed domestic violence did indeed have a greater likelihood than others of developing a behaviour disorder but not an emotional disorder, this correlates with the findings from Trotter et al (2015) as the educational professionals in the mixed focus groups said they often only became aware of domestic abuse when there was a change in behaviour from a child or young person. Research from Katz (2016) showed me that children suffer from a range of coercive behaviours by exposure from perpetrators, mainly fathers, which resulted in the child becoming constrained in situations where their access to resilience building and developmentally learning was limited, which does affect a child’s future development in the long-term, as their cognitive development is limited and fine motor skilled may not be fully enhanced if it is a younger child.  For future development, the findings from Trotter (2015) highlight that professionals should be attentive of warning signs of a child experiencing DV within their home from change in appearance, attitude and mainly a change in behaviour.

Word Count: 2750

Appendix 1 – Search Strategy Table

Date of search Database  name Key words/phrases used Search filters/limits (inclusions/exclusions) No. useful results/total results
23/02/2017 PsycINFO “Effects of the exposure of domestic abuse on a child’s behaviour” Type: Article

Language: English

0/3159
27/02/2017 ProQuest “domestic abuse” (child’s behavioural effects) OR domestic violence (affecting future development) Peer reviewed

English

united kingdom

2012-2017

Research

article

studies

Child

Education

5/127
27/02/2017 ProQuest “spouse violence” (effects on children) OR child effects of behaviour from “domestic abuse”

 

 

Peer reviewed

Journal article

United Kingdom

Spouse

Violence

Children and Youth

Education

Family and family life

Publication title:

Child Abuse Review OR Violence Against Women OR Child & Family Social Work OR Child and family social work

English

2012-1017

3/52
02/03/2017 PsycINFO “domestic abuse” (children) AND child “domestic violence” (impact as an adult) Peer reviewed

Article journal

Subject; – domestic violence

– women

– female

– adult

– violence

– male

– spouse violence

Language; English

Publication date: 2012-2017

8/39

Appendix 2 – CASP Tool (CASP 2013)

CASP Questions Article 1 – Keeping the focus on children… (PECKOVER, Sue and TROTTER, Fiona 2015) Article 2 – Beyond the physical incident model…

(KATZ, Emma 2016)

Article 3 – The mental health of children who…

(DOOS, Lucy et al 2009)

1. Was there a clear statement of the aims?

What was the goal of the research?

 

-Why was the goal of the research?

 

– Its relevance?

The paper aims to report findings from qualitative research undertaken in one local authority area in the north of England in the year 2011 which examines the challenges facing professionals in Safeguarding children affected by domestic abuse.  Aims to build knowledge of how non-violent coercive controlling behaviours can be central to children’s experiences of domestic violence. It considers how children can be harmed by, and resist, coercive controlling tactics perpetrated by their father/ father-figure against their mother. Already, we know much about how women/mothers experience non-physical forms of domestic violence, including psychological/emotional/verbal and financial abuse, isolation and monitoring of their activities. However, this knowledge has not yet reached most research on children and domestic violence, which tends to focus on children’s exposure to physical violence. The researchers’ aim was to present the socio-demographic correlation of children witnessing domestic violence and its association with childhood mental disorders. The biographic, socio-demographic and socio-economic characteristics of 7865 children and their families and measures of traumatic events including witnessing domestic violence were entered into a logistic regression analysis to establish the strength of association between witnessing severe domestic violence and childhood disorders.
2. Is qualitative / quantitative methodology appropriate?

– Does research seek to interpret or illuminate the actions and or subjective experiences of research participants?

Qualitative research was undertaken throughout the research findings of this paper. Other methodology within this paper include; Empirical Study, Interview, Focus Group and Qualitative Study. I believe this choice of methodology was appropriate as opposed to a Quantitative approach of research as the research involved obtaining views about service provision and safeguarding processes. Qualitative study was undertaken, 30 participants from the UK, 15 mothers and 15 of their children

All participants were living in the community. Using the ‘Framework’ approach to thematically analyse the data, findings indicated that perpetrators’/fathers’ coercive control often prevented children from spending time with their mothers and grandparents, visiting other children’s houses and engaging in extracurricular activities.

Quantitative and qualitative data was used by the researcher to collect accurate, facilitating this with open-ended prompts and recording the answers verbatim.

Interviewers completed the face-to-face interview with the parent or main caregiver first.

3. Was the research design appropriate to address the aims of the research?

If the researcher has justified the research design? (Have they discussed how they decided which method to use?)

Six mixed professional focus groups were held and the discussion focused upon participants’ awareness of domestic abuse, how they assessed and met the needs of children and young peoples. Therefore an open question style of research approach is more beneficial to concluding findings.

The research objectives were to examine if and how they identify, assess and meet the needs of children and/ or young people who are vulnerable as a result of domestic abuse, to identify gaps in service provision and professional practice and make recommendations for improvement.

The article is based on interviews with 15 mothers and 15 children who have past experiences of domestic violence.

The study also interviewed children and mothers in these contexts, and therefore adds to the small number of studies to have gathered qualitative data with such participants.

The aim was to produce the prevalence of clinically recognizable mental disorders among children was the Development and Well-Being Assessment
4. Was the recruitment strategy appropriate to the aims of the research?

-If the researcher has explained how the participants were selected?

 

-if they explained why the participants they selected were the most appropriate to provide access to the type of knowledge sought to the study

 

-if there are any other discussions around recruitment?

The first study to ‘specifically speak to both school-aged children residing in the community rather than refuges and their mothers about the child’s experience of domestic violence’

All participants were residing in the community at the time of the study.

Most children and mothers were recruited through voluntary-sector organisations such as Women’s Aid that support survivors of domestic violence.

Mothers who were using/had used these services were contacted, informed about the study and asked if they and their children were interested in participating. Three families (e.g. mothers and children) were also recruited through ‘snowball sampling’, where participants who had been interviewed put the researcher in contact with further participants.

Centralised computer records from the Child Benefit Register were used as a sampling frame to select children aged 5–16 throughout England, Wales and Scotland. The list of children was stratified by region, by postal sector within region and by age within sex within postal sector.

Twenty-nine children were systematically selected from each of the 426 postal sectors.

5. Was the data collected in a way that addressed the research issue?

if the setting for data collection was justified

-if it is clear how data were collected

 

-if the researcher has justified the methods chosen

 

If the researcher has discussed saturation of data?

The data gathered in the findings of this paper include information and views from a total of 23 participants in focus groups and interviews; this allowed the researcher to use a qualitative approach to receive views from mixed professionals by asking open questions.

The findings from the data were then transcribed and a thematic analysis was undertaken.

Focus groups were chosen as the method of data collection as they would generate multi-agency discussion of the research topic

The data presented in this article are drawn from semi-structured interviews with children and mothers with past experiences of domestic violence.

Interviews were conducted in the Midlands region of England in the UK between 2011 and 2012.

Surveys were used to collect the survey data. Special attempts were made to trace families whose addresses or names had changed because of various circumstances.
6. Has the relationship between researcher and participants been adequately considered?

If the researcher critically examined their own role potential bias and influence during 

(a)formation of research questions

(b)data collection

 

How the researcher responded to events during the study and whether they considered the implication of any changes in the research design

The relationship between the researcher and participants

particularly those who provide universal and additional support services such as health visitors and school nurses, education and early years staff (DH 2009), in relation to safeguarding children affected by domestic abuse.

At the onset of the study, we planned to hold six focus groups but due to recruitment difficulties only five were held. The focus groups comprised a mixed professional group and ranged in size; two were attended by six participants, the others by four, two and five participants respectively.

Fifteen mothers and 15 children from 15 families were interviewed, producing 30 interviews in total. However, not all of the mothers and children were paired. In seven families, the mother and one child were interviewed; in four families, the mother and two of her children participated; and in four families, it was only possible to interview the mother, either because the

children were too young or did not wish to participate

The purpose of our investigation was

threefold: (a) to present the prevalence of witnessing severe domestic violence among a representative sample of children and young people aged 5–16 in Great Britain; (b) to examine the socio-demographic, socio-economic and social functioning correlates of witnessing domestic violence; and (c) to look at the extent to which witnessing domestic violence is associated with conduct and emotional disorders in these young people.

7. Have ethical issues been taken into account?

Is there sufficient details of how the research was ethical was this explained to participants

 

If the researcher has discussed issues raised by the study

 

If approval has been sought from the ethics committee

The research received ethical approval from the University of Huddersfield and was undertaken according to established ethical principles including clearly explaining to participants the purpose of the research, establishing informed consent and ensuring anonymity and confidentiality.

The focus groups were digitally recorded with consent, and the data were transcribed and analysed using a process of thematic analysis

The research was reviewed and approved by the University of Nottingham’s Research Ethics Committee. A group of domestic violence survivors were also consulted in the early stages of the project to advise on achieving a suitable research design.

All participants gave informed consent via the signing of consent forms. Prior to interview, participants were informed that a referral to an appropriate statutory agency would be made if concerns about the safety of someone under 18 years became evident. Fortunately, this situation did not arise. Participants chose their own false names, and great care was taken to maintain confidentiality and anonymity.

To participate, mothers and children needed to be separated from perpetrators and to be largely living in safety. Children were required to be aged ten years or over. Interviews were conducted in participants’ homes. Children and mothers were usually interviewed separately, although a few chose to be interviewed with their mother/child present. Interviews were digitally voice recorded, and all participants were given a £10 gift voucher.

The Central Office for Research Ethics Committees of the UK.

The sample selection and advanced letters were sent out by the guardians of the database in order to protect the confidentiality of the children and their contact addresses.

A letter was sent to the parents or primary caregivers asking them to reply only if they did not wish to take part in the research – an opt-out procedure. However, an interviewer call was always preceded by an introductory letter giving parents another chance to refuse to take part. This second letter from the survey organization stressed the importance of the survey, the legitimacy of the survey sponsor and the survey organization, and the importance of the selected household or person’s participation as well as the voluntary nature of their participation.

8. was the data analysis sufficiently rigorous?

If there is an in depth description of the analysis process

 

Explained how data presented were selected from original sample to demonstrate analysis process

 

Researcher critically examined their own role potential bias influence during analysis and selection of data presentation 

The findings from the data were then transcribed and a thematic analysis was undertaken.

Each focus group was attended by both researchers; one facilitated the discussion and asked specific questions, the other managed the recording apparatus and took notes which were later used to check the accuracy and participant attribution of the transcribed data.

The focus groups were digitally recorded with consent, and the data were transcribed and analysed using a process of thematic analysis.

The Framework approach  was used to conduct the data analysis. A thematic framework was produced based on the research questions, the topic guide and emergent issues arising from the interviews. The data were then coded using this framework. Next, the data were placed in charts, and ‘the range of attitudes and experiences’ that participants had expressed about each theme was considered.

The final stage of analysis involved ‘defining concepts, mapping the range and nature of phenomena… finding associations’, and considering the potential implications of the findings.

To improve the representativeness of the survey, a weighting procedure was applied to the data. First, a weight was applied to correct for the unequal sampling probabilities of the children which arose because of the delay between selecting the area and children samples, and second, to match the age/sex/region structure of the population at the time of the survey. These data were also adjusted to take account of the missing teacher data.
9. Is there a clear statement of findings?

-If the findings are explicit

 

-If there is adequate discussions of the evidence both for against the researcher argument.

 

If the findings are discussed in relation to the original research question.

Study undertaken in London found that while prevention work within schools was considered important, it was not prioritised due to limited resources. They also found reluctance among some professionals to talk directly with children and young people or involve them in decisions that affect them.

Another key finding of the study was that professional awareness and recognition of domestic abuse and its impact upon children and young people did not readily translate into practice strategies for meeting their support and safeguarding needs.

Overall, the sample size of 30 participants is small, though comparable with many other qualitative studies in this field. The research is also limited by its underrepresentation of certain groups, including ethnic minority families and families living in rural areas.

Further research is necessary to explore whether the findings are applicable to other populations beyond this sample.

The increased odds of older children having witnessed domestic violence would be expected merely because of the greater length of times they have lived with their parents, but there were no age differences.

Our results are congruent with investigations from previous literature on domestic violence in relation to socio-economic factors.

We found that children from moderate means and hard-pressed families are more likely to witness domestic violence.

10. How valuable is this research?

if the researcher discusses the contributions the study makes existing knowledge/understanding (do they understand existing policies or practice)

 

If they identify new area where research is necessary

 

If the researchers have discussed whether or how the finding can be transferred to other populations or consider other ways the research may be used

of any changes in the research

While our study was not concerned with examining how participants understood the concept of ‘safeguarding children’, a strong professional discourse about safeguarding children and domestic abuse was evident. This may not be surprising given the policy, practice and research context which has highlighted this topic over recent years.

An important finding in this study was that those who worked directly with children and young people such as education staff often became aware of domestic abuse a result of changes in the child or young person’s behaviour, presentation or engagement.

The children in this study appeared to suffer from a range of coercive controlling behaviours by perpetrators /fathers, extending far beyond exposure to physical violence. Fathers/father-figures controlled mothers’ time and movements, isolated mothers (and consequently isolated children) from sources of support and produced family environments that narrowed mothers’ and children’s space for action. These behaviours entrapped children (and their mothers) in constrained situations where children’s access to resilience building and developmentally-helpful persons and activities was limited.

This article has also indicated the need to extend understanding of how children and mothers can resist and protect each other from domestic violence.

The next step is to give greater attention to whether or not children are experiencing coercive control-based domestic violence

Future work in the children and domestic violence field could therefore begin to identify the presence of coercive control in children’s lives using instruments.

Overall, there is much potential for further research and practice initiatives in this area. Shifting from the physical incident model to the concept of coercive control can help to provide knowledge and practice that is in line with children’s lived realities and support need.

This article suggests how children may be harmed by, and also resists, forms of coercive control-based domestic violence other than physical violence – A topic that has received almost no attention in research to date. The results of this study are a starting point for further research in this area, highlighting how children can experience negative impacts when perpetrators/ fathers control mothers’ time and activities, isolate mothers and narrow ‘space for action’ within the family. Employing a coercive control-based definition in future children and domestic violence work, and moving beyond a physical incident model, would enable us to develop deeper understandings of these children’s lived experiences and support needs.

The association between witnessing domestic violence and each variable was determined initially by univariate (unadjusted) logistic regression. To reduce the confounding effects of different factors on witnessing domestic violence, multivariate logistic regression was performed, taking account of all the factors which were significantly associated with witnessing domestic violence when analysed separately. As many of the correlates of witnessing domestic violence are known risk factors for childhood psychiatric disorder, multiple logistic regression was used to identify the independent correlates of conduct and emotional disorders, including witnessing domestic violence as an exposure.

There is a growing need for more research on the consequences of witnessing domestic violence to increase the awareness of social workers and policy-makers to identify the needs of children who witness domestic violence.

Some mothers and children may require mental health services input at a later stage or for longer periods. This may include help with parenting strategies (although usually by non-specialist services) and direct therapeutic interventions. These should be co-ordinated with resettlement, social care or domestic violence agencies.

This study, based on the analysis of a survey of a large representative sample of children and young people in Great Britain, has demonstrated that children witnessing domestic violence do indeed have a greater likelihood than other children of developing a conduct disorder but not emotional disorders.

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