Children exposed to family violence have greater mental health issues - UWA research
The Sector > Research > Understanding Children > Children exposed to family violence have greater mental health issues – UWA research

Children exposed to family violence have greater mental health issues – UWA research

by Freya Lucas

July 26, 2022

Children who are exposed to domestic and family violence are at a much higher risk of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse, and are five times more likely to need help from a mental health service by the age of 18 than children with no known experience of violence a new study from the University of Western Australia (UWA) has found.

 

Alarmingly, the study also found there was an average six-year delay between health or police intervention and the child receiving mental health help. 

 

While other studies have looked at the impact of domestic and family violence on the mental health of children, the report, by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, followed a much larger number of children over a longer time. 

 

The study, Investigating the mental health of children exposed to domestic and family violence through the use of linked police and health records, looked at the impact of violence in the home on children in Western Australia born between 1987 and 2010. Their interactions with health services were followed until the end of 2016.

 

Exposure to family and domestic violence was one of the most common and harmful traumatic events experienced in childhood, lead researcher Dr Carol Orr said.

 

“Children experiencing domestic and family violence have a 36 per cent greater risk of depression, a 49 per cent greater risk of anxiety and an almost 60 per cent greater risk of intentional self-harm,” Dr Orr said.

 

“Children need to be recognised as victims in their own right.”

 

Fellow researcher Professor Colleen Fishe said the study provided sound evidence of the mental health impact on children in physically and emotionally abusive homes. 

 

“Children are sometimes described as the hidden victims of family and domestic violence and these findings show there’s an urgent need for early and appropriate intervention to help children and mitigate any harm,” Professor Fisher said. 

 

To access the study please see here

PRINT