October 25, 2014
Numerous studies have shown that domestic violence has a negative impact on children in the home, even where there is no additional direct abuse to the children, and that children who are so young that they are preverbal and cannot yet understand the significance of the violence are nonetheless harmed.
Among other things, scientists have shown that observing domestic violence constitutes a trauma which becomes programmed into a child’s developing brain and body leading among other things to significantly increased likelihood that the child will relive domestic violence relationships and ultimately negatively impacts the physical and mental health of the child throughout life.
The Washington University Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences has posted a very interesting video that shows a toddler responding to anger which is not directed to the toddler. The video has gone viral. It is enlightening to observe a preverbal child reacting and adapting to avoid being harmed by anger even though the anger is directed toward another person. The study reflected in this video made similar observations as to 149 other toddlers.
With regard to the principle and understanding that domestic violence harms children, this study is important in that one can observe the preverbal toddler’s reaction to anger though it is not being directed at the child. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the harm caused to a child who observes domestic violence is many-fold and all of its implications are not observable on a video.