Identifying Children Affected by Domestic Violence

Children who live with domestic violence have been called the "silent" or "hidden" victims of violence because their presence is often overlooked by the parents/caregivers or unknown by observers and professionals. Adult victims may be hesitant to disclose to police, hospital staff, or child welfare workers that their children have seen the violence. This may be due to embarrassment, fear of retaliation or harm, or fear that their children might be removed from their care by Child Protective Services. Professionals who come in contact with these children and families may not ask about children's exposure to domestic violence because they are wary of offending caregivers or because they do not know what to do to help the children they do identify. In these cases, children are not linked with services.

In recent years, however, many service systems have increased their efforts to identify children and provide services to their families. For example: