Children who are indirect victims of domestic violence can exhibit the same negative outcomes as children who are direct victims. This study investigated the consequences of children's exposure to domestic violence among parents on a range of children's outcomes: mental health, well-being, school performance and placement in out-of-home care. We used administrative records from full population cohorts of children in Denmark (N = 399 519, born 1997–2003). We examined a target group of children exposed to domestic violence and a comparison group not exposed to it, both groups having similar personal and family backgrounds, including pre-birth history of family domestic violence. To construct the comparison group, we used propensity score matching. Exposure to domestic violence had a substantial negative impact on academic performance (age 9–15), self-reported well-being in school (age 10–15) and also increased the likelihood of being placed in out-of-home care (age 9–15) and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (age 9–15). The discounted additional cost (medical and child welfare system) per child indirectly experiencing domestic violence was at least $31 000 (age 0–15). Thus, our results show important adverse effects and suggest that earlier prevention and more preventive social interventions could help reduce the long-term consequences of childhood exposure to domestic violence.
- Stéphanie Vincent Lyk-JensenBøg MartinMalene Rudolf Lindberg
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Published inChild & Family Social Work