Home»Chapters»Childhood Exposure to Domestic & Family Violence
Download Chapter
Executive Summary
Case Summaries

Childhood, Infant and Perinatal Exposure to, and Experience of, Domestic & Family Violence

Executive Summary

Note: citations have been omitted from the below text. Click to access the PDF version of this Executive Summary at left to view a fully referenced version.

Domestic and family violence occurs across all age, socioeconomic and demographic groups, but predominantly affects women and children.

There is mounting empirical evidence of the effects of exposure to domestic and family violence on children’s development and a growing recognition of the ways these harms can manifest in intergenerational cycles of trauma, violence and disadvantage.

Impacts on children’s behaviour, schooling, cognitive development and physical and mental wellbeing include:

• impaired cognitive functioning

• poorer academic outcomes

• increased aggression

• lack of emotional control

• destructive behaviours • learning difficulties

• depression and poor mental wellbeing

• low self-esteem

• low school attendance, and

• bullying.

The cumulative effects of long-term exposure to violence might result in an inability to regulate emotion, cognitive and behavioural developmental delays and increased risk of a psychiatric diagnosis.

There is evidence of a link between exposure to family violence in childhood and the intergenerational transmission of violence, as well as alcohol and drug use. Children whose formative years are affected are vulnerable to developing long-term mental health issues, which is a risk factor for both experiencing and perpetrating family violence.

The potential relevance of evidence of childhood exposure to domestic and family violence in sentencing proceedings includes an assessment of moral culpability, moderating the weight to be given to general deterrence and determining the weight to be given to specific deterrence and protection of the community. There may also be issues relating to the likelihood of hardship in custody, a finding of special circumstances and the shaping of conditions to enhance prospects of rehabilitation.

Subscribe to the Bugmy Bar Book Mailing List


For enquiries or further information, please email info@bugmybarbook.org.au

Follow the Bugmy Bar Book on LinkedIn