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NCJ Number: 199107 Find in a Library
Title: Domestic Violence: Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence
Corporate Author: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
United States of America
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 36
Sponsoring Agency: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
Washington, DC 20024
Sale Source: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information
1250 Maryland Avenue, SW
Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20024
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This report provides a State-by-State summary of legislation (current through April 30, 2002) that pertains to child witnesses to domestic violence.
Abstract: Throughout the previous two decades, the co-occurrence of child maltreatment and domestic violence has been consistently identified as a significant social problem that affects children and families across the country. Recent research has shown that in households where women are abused, a substantial portion of their children are also victims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The witnessing of such abuse may be auditory, visual, or inferred, in which the child observes the aftermath of bruises, cuts, and broken bones. Some States currently use child endangerment statutes to permit prosecution of batterers who commit assaults on a partner in the presence of a child. Nineteen States, however, now have protective legislation that specifically pertains to children who witness acts of domestic violence. The majority of these States provide enhanced criminal penalties for the commission of domestic violence offenses in the presence of a child; for example, in Idaho, the maximum penalties are doubled when the offense of domestic violence is witnessed by a child. Utah's statute makes it a separate crime to commit an act of domestic violence in the presence of a child. A few other States, including Alaska, Arizona, and Ohio, consider such conduct an aggravating factor for courts to consider in sentencing. Other States mandate counseling for child witnesses, allow courts to find a child witness in need of aid, and presume that a child witness may have sustained physical injury for purposes of restitution. Although such statutes vary across States, they have the following common elements: defining the children who are protected under the legislation; specification of the meaning of "in the presence of a child;" the identification of actions that constitute domestic violence; and whether one witnessing incident is sufficient for a violation or repeated exposure to violent incidents is required for an offense.
Main Term(s): Juvenile victims
Index Term(s): Child abuse; Children at risk; Children of battered women; Domestic assault; State laws; State-by-state analyses
Note: Child Abuse and Neglect State Statutes Series: Compendium of Laws
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