Domestic Violence and Child Rights: Expecting too much without educating to be parents

A huge majority of individuals throughout the globe aspire to marry, have children and raise them as good human beings but the dearth of proper education to make them suitable to handle domestic responsibilities is making the situations complex. The policy of providing more and more powers to the government agencies to punish parents often proves counter-productive.

Siddheshwar  ShuklaSiddheshwar Shukla | Updated: 18-02-2020 17:16 IST | Created: 18-02-2020 17:16 IST
Domestic Violence and Child Rights: Expecting too much without educating to be parents
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The age-old adage of 'as mother as child' is now getting approval in scientific researches throughout the world. In a recent study by the George Mason University of the US published in Maternal and Child Health Journal, it was concluded that the children of the mothers suffering from intimate partner violence (IPV) tend to miss schools more in comparison to those living in a healthy and safe environment.

According to the research, 23.3 percent of women who experienced IPV, reported that the school attendance of their children was disrupted. The study used baseline data from a sub-sample of 659 women in Mexico City who recently experienced IPV and reported having a child under age 18. It was further concluded that the children whose mothers were suffering high physical and high or low sexual violence injuries were at greater risk of missing their schools. The study was authored by Warrant Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University, International Rescue Committee, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.

There are several studies to suggest adverse impacts of domestic violence against the children. The impact ranges from socio-psychological behavior to academic performance and interpersonal skills of the children. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a report titled – Behind the Closed Doors - has presented a detailed analysis of the impact of domestic violence on children. “For too many children, home is far from a haven. Every year, hundreds of millions of children are exposed to domestic violence at home, and this has a powerful and profound impact on their lives and hopes for the future. These children not only watch one parent violently assaulting another, they often hear the distressing sounds of violence or may be aware of it from many telltale signs,” said UNESCO in the report. “Children who are exposed to violence in the home may have difficulty learning and limited social skills, exhibit violent, risky or delinquent behavior, or suffer from depression or severe anxiety,” it added. The report also highlights that homes with younger children have more domestic violence than older children. According to rough estimates, around 275 million children worldwide are exposed to domestic violence.

Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

UNESCO has identified three major risks of domestic violence among children. They are – the risk of becoming victim, adverse impact on physical, emotional and social development and, risk of becoming a culprit. 

The children who are exposed to domestic violence were found to be 15 times more likely to be physically and/ or sexually assaulted than the national average, said the UNESCO report. The same trends were also seen in supporting studies across the regions and continents. “As they grow, children who are exposed to violence may continue to show signs of problems. Primary-school-age children may have more trouble with schoolwork and show poor concentration and focus. They tend not to do as well in school. In one study, forty percent had lower reading abilities than children from non-violent homes,” said the Report. The studies also suggest that the children exposed to domestic violence also face problems in peer interaction, academic and extra-curricular activities.

An Ideal Home for Children

The report of the UNESCO has prescribed three criteria for an ideal home for children. They are – safe and secure environment at home, proper communication (children need to know that there are adults who will listen to them, believe them and shelter them), sense of routine and normalcy, support services, non-violent methods of resolving conflicts and dialogue (children need adults to speak out and break the silence).

The Way Ahead

The policies based on giving more and more powers to bureaucratic setups often fail to save families because they are based on either on the rights of children or the rights of women. In such a case, rights activists are now questioning law in  Oklahoma state of the USA under which a mother was jailed for 20 years for her failure to protect the right of her toddler daughter while her boyfriend convicted for harassment of girl, received half 11 years of the sentence. Though the mother rescued the child and rushed her to the hospital but sentenced about double punishment. Will the child be safer and better after loosing such a caring mother to the law?

An ideal home for children is never an unachievable target for parents if they focus on non-violent methods of conflict resolution rather dreaming about no conflict on this planet. The parents need to understand that conflict is an integral part of everyday life whether it is personal, professional or public. What makes the difference in the methods adopted for conflict resolution. Besides violence, the most horrible moment for children is the silence between their parents and lack of dialogue for longer durations.

The policies made to allow the interference of the state into the interpersonal relations of parents often turn counterproductive as children need both the parents to develop as a healthy and productive human being. Every single individual aspires to marry, set up a household, have children, and raise them but there is hardly anything in the modern education system to make them learn about these things. Therefore, there is an urgent need to provide integrated and holistic education to every person before s/he enters into the household rather than punishing them after they commit blunders.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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