A substantial amount of research has been conducted that documents adverse effects of domestic violence on children but that focuses on children who reside with their mothers in emergency shelters after leaving home; such research, however, is limited because only a small proportion of battered women use shelters and not all shelters can accommodate children.
To extend the reach of therapeutic interventions and other services to a wider population of children of battered women, it is important to know where they are located and what social institutions may be involved in the delivery of services to them. The current study was conducted to examine the needs of children of battered women, regardless of where they lived. The study looked at the children of domestic abuse victims in a large, demographically diverse community in the northeastern United States. Researchers worked with the district court and the district attorney's office and gathered population data on mothers who applied for temporary restraining orders over a 6- month period. Personal interviews with mothers were conducted in a sample of cases that proceeded to criminal prosecution in order to assess their perceptions of the adequacy of services provided to children. Findings revealed that inadequate attention was given to the identification, service needs, and treatment of domestic violence cases and that little attention was paid to family violence prevention. Despite efforts to establish protocols, case review meetings, and other mechanisms, there was generally a lack of effective coordination among agencies responsible for addressing family violence. Recommendations are offered to better identify and respond to the needs of children of battered women and to break the cycle of domestic violence through education and training. Appendixes contain a profile of stabbing victims and a case abstraction form and interview guide. 73 references, 8 tables, and 2 figures
Date Published: January 1, 1998