The majority of time, society considers domestic violence as a spouse abusing a spouse, or intimate partner abuse. How often do we hear or read reports of parents abusing their own children? We hear of babies being brutally beaten just to make them stop crying. A book that was published several years ago brought the matter of family abuse against children to light when Oprah featured its writer as her guest. The book was entitled, “A Child Called ‘It’.”
Far too often the abuse ends in the death of the child, such as the story of Sean Hines, who was murdered by his mother. There are also the reports of parenticide, when a young person kills one or both parents, going back much further than Lizzie Borden and her axe. There was a 15.6% increase in domestic violence murders in 2009 in Florida, while all other crime dropped by 6.7%.
It is also important to take pause and realize a child who grows up in a home of domestic violence, by default, is likely as an adult to become an abuser in their own home. In other words, witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. So, a child who has lived in domestic violence will usually replicate it within their own home as an adult.
Our prisons are full of criminals who were victims of domestic violence as children. That in no way excuses them from the crimes they committed. It does, however, leave a huge black eye on society, and should serve to encourage us to educate anyone and everyone we can about the effects domestic violence has on our nation.
Some would say we need to remind parents that it is their job to parent and raise a child properly, not the School Board’s. What has changed so drastically since Boomers were children? Is the rate of family violence increasing because more moms have entered the workforce? Could it be a result of less spanking? Or have we become more violent as a result of spanking taking place within a family?
It is no longer uncommon to hear an attorney turn down a case if child custody is an issue, especially if it is disputed. I have personally been in contact with various family members who lost a daughter or son, or even a grandchild as the result of a murder/suicide over child custody litigation. At what point did we become able to apathetically view such a report on the 6:00 news without shock, but rather see it as “just another story,” and within a week or two forget all about it? Is it possible we no longer feel repulsed to learn of mass murders in beauty salons as a result of domestic violence? Were they a result of an argument over child custody?
People, we have to get a grip on this familial aggression. It, too, is domestic violence.