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Study summarised:

Falling through the cracks: Young adults recollection of exposure to domestic violence during childhood

The summary:

This qualitative study explored the experiences of South African children exposed to domestic violence based on the recollections of young adults.

  • Participants were young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years, who were subjected to domestic violence during childhood, and who received social work support services
  • Participants were recruited from the Drakenstein Local Municipal Area in the Cape Winelands area of the Western Cape.
  • Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight participants.
  • This paper provides a summary of how children experienced domestic violence at home and how it impacted them..
  • This paper is based on a very small sample in a single province of South Africa, and it is only based on the views of participants, thus it cannot be generalised to the rest of the South African child population or globally. However, very important information is yielded on the impact of domestic violence on some South African children, according to these children.

Significant findings?

  • Young adults in this study reported the following consequences of being exposed to the domestic violence in their homes when they were still children:
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Shame/embarrassment
  • Socialising with friends of a negative influence
  • Being older (young adults), the impact of this exposure led to some of these participants experiencing generalised fear of men, heightened levels of aggression, the use of substances to cope and a low-self-esteem.
  • Participants also made specific recommendations to social workers and highlighted that children in such cases need more direct attention from the social workers.

How can you relate this to practice?

  • If you have a case in which a child is exposed to domestic violence, reading this article might give you some additional insight into how some children in similar situations experience domestic violence and what possible consequences could be
  • If you need to intervene on a statutory level (in such a case), you can reference this article in your court report to support your actions (that highlight the dangerous impact of exposure to domestic violence)
  • In your efforts to educate families or communities about the dangers of exposing children to domestic violence, you could summarise and present the findings of this study in a meaningful way to educate society, as well as young inexperienced social workers who might not fully comprehend the detrimental impact of domestic violence on children.