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22 Widener L. Rev. 201 (2016)
Domestic Violence, Children, and Toxic Stress

handle is hein.journals/wlsj22 and id is 217 raw text is: 




      DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, CHILDREN, AND TOXIC STRESS

                         ALLAN   R. DE JONG, M.D.'

       It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
                             Frederick Douglass

                     The child is the father of the man.
                            William Wordsworth

                            1. INTRODUCTION

   It is estimated that approximately 1.5 million women and  830,000 men
experience  physical or sexual  assault annually in the United  States by
intimate partners, commonly called domestic violence.' In the United States,
more  than 15 million children live in families in which domestic violence
occurs and almost half of these children witness severe violence in assaults
of a parent.2 As individuals and as a society, we need to face the reality that
exposure of children to domestic violence undermines  healthy physical and
emotional development  for the child, which places the child at increased risk
of physical and emotional diseases and disabilities as adults.' The effects of
domestic  violence  on  children  include  social consequences,   physical
consequences,  and  behavioral or neuroendocrine  consequences   that may
result in transient, long-lasting or permanent harm to the child.' The purpose
of this discussion is to provide a medical background  for the urgency for
appropriate intervention in situations where domestic violence occurs in the
presence of children.

  II. OVERVIEW   OF THE EFFECTS  OF DOMESTIC   VIOLENCE   ON CHILDREN

  The  social consequences for children include those related to the violence
directed at their mother and the common   association of domestic violence
and  child abuse. Studies indicate that families with either child abuse or


   * Dr. De Jong is the Medical Director of the Children at Risk Evaluation (CARE) Program
at the Nemours - A. 1. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware and Clinical
Professor of Pediatrics at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson
University. For more than 35 years, Dr. De Jong has conducted medical evaluations for
suspected victims of child abuse.
   I Jonathan D. Thackeray et al., Clinical Report-Intimate Partner Violence: The Role ofthe
Pediatrician, 125 PEDIATRICS 1094, 1094-95 (2010), http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/con
tent/1 25/5/1094.
   2 Megan Bair-Merritt et al., Silent Victims-An Epidemic of Childhood Exposure to
Domestic Violence, 369 NEw ENG. MED. 1673, 1673 (2010), http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.
1056/NEJMpI307643.
    Thackeray, supra note 1, at 1095; Bair-Merritt, supra note 2, at 1674.
    4 Thackeray, supra note 1, at 1095.
                                   201

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