The Serious Impact of Domestic Violence on Children – Juvenile Dependency 101
Many parents facing a juvenile dependency case due to domestic or intimate partner violence feel fear over the uncertainty that lies ahead of them and shame for their situation. If this sounds like you, please keep reading to learn about the impact of domestic violence cases on juvenile dependency cases.
While juvenile dependency cases are very serious, they are not intended to be punitive to parents. Instead, juvenile dependency cases are the government’s way of protecting children from abuse, neglect, or endangerment. The judge will offer you services to facilitate reunification with your children in most cases.
It is crucial for the overall success of this process that you understand the effect that domestic violence has on children. Even when physical harm does not occur directly to a child, witnessing the violence impacts their development dramatically.
Violence in the Home
The California Department of Public Health calls domestic violence a significant public health problem. Since it is estimated that children witness anywhere from 68% to 80% of these incidents, it is understandable that agencies like Child Protective Services (CPS) are contacted to step in and investigate.
Further, parents who are victims of violence may find it challenging to fill the role of nurturing and competent adult, which is something that all kids desperately need.
These violent experiences in children’s lives can be catastrophic for their young and impressionable minds. It impacts every part of their development, both immediately following the incidents and long-term.
Stress and trauma manifest differently from child to child and depend on their developmental stage. For example, young children may regress to activities like bed-wetting or thumb-sucking and may experience separation anxiety or sleep disturbances.
They are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, have trouble making or keeping friends, have low self-esteem, and struggle with delinquency.
A whole host of psychological effects can occur due to domestic violence. For example, children’s mental health declines, including their self-esteem and self-respect, and many victims of violent environments experience depression, aggression, and anxiety.
This trauma can also cause many other illnesses and disorders like insomnia, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Living in a safe environment gives kids the best opportunity to grow into healthy and happy adults.
You can show the dependency court that you recognize and prioritize this by completing all the requirements the judge sets for you and continuing to educate yourself on the importance of a violence-free home for your child.
What Do Dependency Courts Consider?
The Court’s main concern is the child’s safety. Due to all the harmful impacts of domestic violence listed above, the courts take domestic violence cases and domestic violence restraining orders very seriously.
Courts will look to willful or negligent failure of the parent or guardian to provide the child with a safe home. Courts will also consider the inability of the parent or guardian to provide regular care for the child due to the parent’s or guardian’s mental illness, developmental disability, or substance abuse.