19 J. Juv. L. 196 (1998)
Child Witness as a Victim of Domestic Violence: Prosecuting the Batterer under California's Child Abuse Statute, The; Kershaw, Gina L.

handle is hein.journals/jjuvl19 and id is 206 raw text is: THE CHILD WITNESS AS A
VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE:
PROSECUTING THE BATTERER
UNDER CALIFORNIA'S
CHILD ABUSE STATUTE
I. INTRODUCTION
One can scarcely imagine a more traumatic situation for a child
than to witness a violent attack on someone they love. Yet such in-
stances occur daily,1 with incredible psychological and societal impli-
cations.2 Studies indicate that up to six million people are the victims
of domestic violence annually in the United States,3 and at least one-
half of these attacks occur in the presence of children.' Experts esti-
mate the range of children who witness physical and sexual assaults in
their homes at between 3.3 and 10 million each year.
Current research suggests that witnessing violence may be as harm-
ful as being the victim of violence-whether it is a parent, brother
or sister who suffers the abuse. This makes sense. We feel ex-
tremely helpless, frustrated and angry when we see someone we
love suffering at the hands of someone else we love or should at
least trust.6
More has to be done to protect the children from this form of
child abuse which shows no outward signs of physical trauma, but
causes great mental suffering. California prosecutors are using an in-
novative strategy to meet this challenge by prosecuting domestic bat-
terers for causing mental suffering to the child under California Penal
Code section 273a(b),7 a misdemeanor child abuse statute.
1. Kate Sproul, California's Response to Domestic Violence, CALIFORNIA SENATE
OFFICE OF RESEARCH (1996) (688 incidents of domestic violence are reported, on aver-
age, every day in California.).
2. See generally THE IMPACT OF DoMESTIc VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN, A REPORT TO
THE PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION (1994) and Betsy McAlister et al.,
Silent Victims: Children Who Witness Violence, 269 JAMA 262 (1993).
3. Alan J. Tomkins et al., The Plight of Children Who Witness Woman Battering:
Psychological Knowledge and Policy Implications, 18 L. & PSYCHOL. REv. 137, 139 (1994)
(citing Murray A. Straus, Conceptualization and Measurement of Battering: Implications
for Public Policy, WOMAN BATTERING: POLICY RESPONSES 19, 24-32 (1991)).
4. Id. (citing P.G. JAFFE ET AL., CHILDREN OF BATTERED WOMEN (1990)).
5. ABA REPORT, supra note 2, at 1.
6. STEvE TSUCHIYAMA, FAMILY PROBLEMS 27 (1994).
7. CAL. PENAL CODE § 273a (West 1997).

Purchase Short-Term Access to HeinOnline

Prices starting as low as $29.95

Already a Subscriber?

What Is HeinOnline?

Learn More About the Law Journal Library (pdf)

We also offer annual subscriptions to universities, colleges, law firms, organizations, and other institutions. To request a quote please visit http://home.heinonline.org/subscriptions/request-a-quote/

Please note: the content in the Law Journal Library is constantly changing and some content has restrictions as required per the license. Therefore, please review the available content via the following link to ensure the material you wish to access is included in the database. For a complete list of content included in the Law Journal Library, please view http://www.heinonline.org/HOL/CSV.csv?index=journals&collection=journals