Children eyewitness to family violence

Washington, Oct 18 - More than one out of four children have been exposed to physical violence between their parents at some time, say US researchers.

But the vast bulk of exposed children - 90 percent - were eyewitness to at least one incident, according to researchers from the University of New Hampshire (UNH).

"Not surprisingly, given this high rate of eyewitness exposure, children had strong reactions to the exposure," said Sherry Hamby, of UNH's Children's Research Centre, who led the study.

"Almost half yelled at their parents to stop, more than two in five tried to get away from the fight, and nearly one out of four called for help," added Hamby, according to a UNH statement.

Children get exposed to violence between parents in a variety of ways, such as hearing it, getting told about, or seeing the consequences.

Male parents and care-givers were identified as the perpetrator 69 percent of the time, female parent figures were identified 23 percent of the time.

Both male and female perpetrators were identified by nine percent of youth. Non-cohabiting boyfriends of mothers, for example, were 11 percent of identified perpetrators.

"We want people to recognize that children's exposure to violence in the family is not limited to fights between parents. They also see parents physically assault siblings and teens or adults physically assault other relatives," Hamby said.

The research was reported in a new bulletin released by the US Department of Justice. The bulletin was part of the National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence. (IANS)