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DescriptionGreenwich Social Work Review
2021, Vol 2, No 2, 173-180
ISSN: 2633-4313
Defining child exposure to domestic violence:
Lessons from a historical review of the literature
Stephenie Howard1
1 Norfolk State University
Received 29 June 2021
Accepted for publication 6 October 2021
Published 18 December 2021
‘Child witnesses of domestic violence’ policies and practices in the United States have been fraught with conceptual challenges
that limit their implementation. Such limitations are evident in the case of Minnesota, which amended its definition of child
neglect to include a child’s exposure to family violence, only to later repeal this amendment in response to pressure from child
welfare administrators and domestic violence advocates (Edleson, Gassman-Pines and Hill, 2006; Kantor and Little, 2003).
The conceptual flaws are also evident in disparities across state statutes for definitions of child witnesses of domestic violence
and the legal penalties it carries (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2021). To enhance the integrity of child witnesses of
domestic violence policies and practices, critical attention is needed to clarify and refine the central construct. Pursuant to this
goal, this conceptual paper analyzes and synthesizes the history of child welfare. It demonstrates how child witnesses of
domestic violence became a social and legal problem. The author traces the evolution of child welfare as a concept and provides
new insights. The author also sheds light on the driving forces of child welfare policies and practices. The paper begins in the
Colonial Ages, which gave roots to the contemporary child welfare system. The author describes the early development of child
welfare leading to contemporary practice. The paper ends by making evidence-based recommendations for constructing child
welfare policies that enhance the safety of children exposed to domestic violence using least restrictive interventions.
Keywords: child witnesses of domestic violence, family violence, intimate partner abuse, child maltreatment, child welfare
1. Introduction
Children who live in homes where domestic violence
occurs learn indirectly about acts of violence at best and at
worst are present when the acts occur. They are likely to suffer
psychological or physical injuries from exposure to domestic
violence. An estimated 20% of child homicide victims in the
US are the result of domestic violence exposure (Adhia et al.,
2019). Yet, US states have been slow and inconsistent in
recognizing the potential harm that comes to children exposed
to domestic violence. Only 26 states, and Puerto Rico,
explicitly define child exposure to domestic violence as a civil
and/or criminal offense (Child Welfare Information Gateway,
2021). Some states such as Minnesota even repealed their
child witnesses of domestic violence laws following backlash
from child welfare administrators and domestic violence
advocates (Edleson, Gassman-Pines and Hill, 2006; Kantor
Contact: swhoward@nsu.edu
and Little, 2003). Among the states with existing statutes, the
circumstances that constitute exposure to domestic violence as
well as the legal consequences vary greatly (Child Welfare
Information Gateway, 2021). There is a great need to refine
existing statutes so that they are more informed and agreeable.
Toward this goal, this paper reports on a historical review
of the literature on the development of child welfare in the US
to understand the underlying philosophical views and values.
The paper traces the evolution of child welfare as a concept
and provides new insights, and demonstrates how child
witnesses of domestic violence became a social and legal
problem. It also traces the history from the Colonial Era to
contemporary practices, while it sheds light on the driving
forces of child welfare policies and practices and provides
insight into the theoretical underpinnings. Lastly,
© 2021 Greenwich Social Work Review
Greenwich Social Work Review, 2(2)
recommendations for policies and practices for children
exposed to domestic violence are made.
2. Foundational background of child welfare
This paper begins by examining the cultural assumptions
and legal practices surrounding parent-child relationships in
the Colonial Ages to understand the philosophical
underpinnings of child welfare policies and practices. It is
important to note that patrilineal and patriarchal laws and
customs governed the colonists. Colonists believed that
fathers had absolute power over their households (Mason,
1994; Woodhouse, 1992). As such, fathers had the right to
treat their children as they saw fit. Fathers typically consigned
their children to labor so that they could benefit from their
wages (Mason, 1994; Woodhouse, 1992). This custom left
orphans and other left children without parents to be exploited
for their labor. Mason (1994) recounts that many children
without parents came to the new colonies in America as
indentured servants. Colonists routinely separated children
born out-of-wedlock from their mothers and bound them out.
They also removed children born into slavery from their
parents and sold them to slave owners (Mason, 1994).
The servitude of children was based, in part, on the critical
need for labor in the new colonies. Colonists viewed children
as valuable workers in the labor-scarce colonies (Mason,
1994). In this context, fathers regarded their children as
valuable assets for which they had personal involvement. In
exchange for provisions and protection, fathers claimed the
wages children received for their services and labor
(Woodhouse, 1992). As follows, fathers placed children under
a legal obligation to work, or traded, married-off, or sold them
into slavery.
Common law supported child labor (Mason, 1994).
Fathers had the right to use their children at their discretion.
In like manner, fathers had the legal authority to administer
corporal punishment to their children (Woodhouse, 1992).
Colonists viewed corporal punishment as a parental right
(Mason, 1994). Because children were akin to chattel, parents,
fathers in particular, had the freedom to decide how to treat
them. As a result, child physical abuse, neglect, and sexual
assault were likely prevalent, though no accurate prevalence
rates can be established at present.
3. Early roots of child welfare
The first iteration of child welfare traces back to the selfproclaimed “child-savers” of the 1850s (Woodhouse, 1992).
Early child-savers removed immigrant children from
impoverished homes and placed them in lodging houses,
foster homes, and industrial schools (Woodhouse, 1992).
They justified intervention on the basis of a parent’s failure to
live up to established housing standards (Woodhouse, 1992).
Later child savers provided aid to poor White widows and
single mothers (Roberts, 2002). State policies came to conflate
child neglect and poverty such that children dependent on the
public for support and those living without parental care were
treated the same under the law (Roberts, 2002). There was a
general consensus that child maltreatment stemmed from
poverty, and indulgent children were to be provided for by the
community. Notably, however, child welfare only extended to
White children (Roberts, 2002). Black children and families
were excluded from services in practice and effect because
they were not deemed part of the community (Roberts, 2002).
A natural byproduct of the work of child savers was child
labor advocacy because they viewed poverty as the grounds
for child labor (Woodhouse, 1992). The use of children’s labor
in the workforce continued from Colonial Era to the Industrial
Revolution. Woodhouse (1992, p. 1059) states that ‘one-third
of the workforce in southern textile mills was children aged
ten to thirteen’. Child savers took issue with the dangerous
conditions in which children were working in the factories
(Woodhouse, 1992). They mounted a campaign to bring the
harsh work conditions of children to public attention
(Woodhouse, 1992). Thanks to the work of the child rights
movement, sentiments about the role of children and their
rights began to change. Their work culminated in the
formation of the National Child Labor Committee in 1909 and
the Children’s Bureau within the Labor Department a few
years following (Woodhouse, 1992). The Children’s Bureau
would go on to advance titles of the Social Security Act of
1935, which would lay the foundation for today’s federal
welfare programs for children and their families living in
poverty (Myers, 2008).
4. The emergence of the medical model of child
Efforts to address the safety and well-being of children
would remain largely limited to poverty and poverty adjacent
issues until the late 20th century. Roberts (2002) explains that,
because child rights activists linked child welfare to poverty,
in the 1970s, when the war on poverty came under attack by
the public, interest in child welfare began to wane. In
response, child welfare advocates took measures to dissociate
child welfare from poverty programs. They reframed child
maltreatment as a symptom of individual pathology. In effect,
child welfare policies and services began to cut back on aid to
families and raise the penalties to families. At the same time,
child welfare saw a drastic rise in the number of Black
Greenwich Social Work Review, 2(2)
children receiving services. This time marked the beginning
of the racial disproportionality in child welfare that is evident
even today (Roberts, 2002). The 1970s represented a new era
in child welfare that was overly punitive toward parents, Black
parents in particular – referred for services.
Concurrent to the shifting tide of child welfare philosophy,
Kempe and colleagues published the seminal article in the
Journal of the American Medical Association introducing “the
battered child syndrome” as a medical condition (as cited in
Parton, 1979). The article addressed the reluctance of the
medical community to acknowledge the problem of child
maltreatment, identified child maltreatment as a major cause
of death and significant injury in children, and recommended
that medical professionals report child maltreatment to the
proper authorities (Parton, 1979). Kempe coupled his paper
with a three-hour plenary session for the 1961 annual meeting
of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Krugman, 2018). A
multidisciplinary team presented medical findings and the
incidence of child maltreatment. Invited press broadcasted the
story, leading to national attention (Krugman, 2018).
What followed was a watershed of research on the adverse
effects of child abuse on children’s physical health. National
news outlets made headlines of abuse cases, fueling public
interest on the issue (Myers, 2008). This discourse helped to
reshape public perceptions about the relationship between
children and their parents. Patriarchal beliefs gave way to the
egalitarian family model. The public increasingly viewed
parents as agents or trustees on behalf of children, and the
limits of these bounds began to take shape (Montgomery,
1988). It became widely recognized that parents are entrusted
to faithfully administer the affairs of children, and intervention
is needed when they falter in this duty. In this way, a medical
model of child welfare came to be, with the assumption that
parents who abuse their children are pathological and
professionals can and should treat child maltreatment. The
medical model is best defined as a pathologic approach that
‘emphasizes the individual as the source of problem and target
of treatment’ (Sarri and Finn, 1992, p. 225).
The new interpretation of child maltreatment necessitated
a new approach to child welfare. As such, the public called for
formalized state intervention. In response, the 1962
amendment of the Social Security Act included an agreement
to make child welfare services available statewide over the
subsequent 13 years (Myers, 2008). The first major
development toward this goal was the passage of the Child
Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) of 1974
(Myers, 2008). Myers (2008) writes that CAPTA authorized
federal funds to improve the state response to physical abuse
and neglect to include improving investigation and reporting.
In addition, CAPTA provided funds for training and related
programs. The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect
was developed to administer CAPTA (Myers, 2008). Thus, the
1970s and 1980s saw the development of formalized child
abuse and neglect policies.
5. The development of family-centered strengthsbased child welfare model
Congress passed the Adoption Assistance and Child
Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA) requiring states to make
“reasonable efforts” to avoid removing children from
maltreating parents. In addition, this act supported the
objective of strengthening families to avoid the removal of
children and reduce their time in care (Allen and Petre, 1998).
AACWA ushered in family preservation policies (Myers,
2008). In the 1980s, pilot studies of family-centered
interventions and programs emerged (Jarpe-Ratner and
Smithgall, 2017). These interventions and programs included
family preservation services, intensive in-home services, and
family-centered, neighborhood-based services. They helped to
facilitate a new practice paradigm in child welfare – familycentered, strengths-based services (Jarpe-Ratner and
Smithgall, 2017; Xu, Ahn and Keyser, 2020). Familycentered, strengths-based services are a set of theoretical
principles guiding child welfare policies and practices. Under
this framework, public child welfare agencies strive to tailor
services to meet the needs of individual families, preserve
families whenever possible, partner with families to ensure
children’s safety and wellbeing and fortify internal strengths
and external resources to support family functioning. This
approach also expanded on the unit of attention to include the
whole family system and explicitly recognized the crucial role
of the family in children’s development (Allen and Petre,
1998; Reid-Merritt, 2010). The promotion of kinship care, the
practice of relatives caring for children in loco parentis is also
an outgrowth of the family-focused, strengths-based
philosophy (Reid-Merritt, 2010). Taken as a whole, the
contemporary developments in child welfare reflect a
deliberate and explicit move away from an emphasis on
punishment and family disruption toward family preservation.
6. Including child sexual abuse in child welfare
Notably, child sexual abuse was not part of the early child
welfare discourse (Myers, 2008). The overlook of child sexual
abuse can be attributed to early psychological theories. As a
leading example, Azzopardia, Alaggiab and Fallon (2018)
provide that Freud’s seduction theory from the 1890s posited
that hysteria is a manifestation of repressed child sexual abuse
trauma. In response to the backlash against the notion that
Greenwich Social Work Review, 2(2)
children experience sexual abuse, Freud reversed his
statements (Azzopardia, Alaggiaband Fallon, 2018). He
indicated that the childhood sexual assaults that he had
previously reported were false memories in defense against
memories of their own childish sexual activities (Jung, 1916;
Olafson, Corwinand Summit, 1993). After reframing his
clinical observations as such, he theorized that variations and
manifestations of sexual activity in children, while not
comparable to the adult sexuality, were normal and
commonplace (Jung, 1916).
Freud went on to advance the Oedipus complex,
suggesting that children have an innate unconscious desire for
a sexual relationship with their parent of the opposite sex
(Azzopardi, Alaggiaand Fallon, 2018) and wish to replace the
same-sex parent (Johnson, 2016). This popular theory
effectively invalidated reports of child sexual abuse as wishful
fantasies for sexual attention (Azzopardi, Alaggiaand Fallon,
2018; Olafson, Corwinand Summit, 1993). While
psychologists continued to debate the issue, the general
consensus was that child sexual abuse was normal and benign
and that children were often complicit in their sexual abuse
(Olafson, Corwinand Summit, 1993).
Olafson, Corwin and Summit (1993) indicate that
feminists continued Freud’s earlier work and sided with the
psychologists who condemned child sexual abuse as an
offense against innocent children. They called attention to the
prevalence of child sexual assault as a function of patriarchy
and sexism. In response to the feminist critique, mental health
professionals in the 1930s to 1950s reframed sex abusers as
‘radically different from other men, pathological, and properly
the province of the treating professionals’ (Olafson, Corwin
and Summit, 1993, p. 13). Subsequently, a popular narrative
took shape with hundreds of American newspapers and
magazines perpetuating the myth that strangers were the
dominant perpetrators of sex crimes. This discourse
effectively concealed the predominance of sexual assault
occurring within the family. Child victims of sexual abuse
were also relabeled as sex delinquents or participating victims,
and incest was constructed to implicate child victims as being
seduced by their parents. What resulted was the passage of sex
crimes legislation and policies mandating special treatment in
mental institutions for ‘“sexual psychopaths’” (Olafson,
Corwinand Summit, 1993, p. 14). There was little protection
or discussion about child sexual assault by caregivers.
In the shadows of the mainstream narrative of “stranger
danger,” researchers began to document that sexual abuse
within the family is harmful to the psyche of children
(Hudson, 1992; Myers, 2008). Researchers documented fear
and stress responses to sexual contact with adults in childhood
and the long-term effects of child sexual abuse (Olafson,
Corwinand Summit, 1993). Research in the 1950s focused on
maternal neglect or failure to protect their children from
sexual abuse (Olafson, Corwinand Summit, 1993), but
research in the 1970s and 1980s emphasized the harm caused
by the abuser (Hudson, 1992; Myers, 2008; Olafson,
Corwinand Summit, 1993). This research propelled child
sexual abuse into the child welfare paradigm. Child sexual
abuse was finally formally recognized as a form of child
maltreatment in 1974 with CAPTA, and mandatory reporting
laws for child sexual abuse were put in place (Myers, 2008).
Consistent with the leading constructions of child
maltreatment at the time, perpetrators of child sexual abuse
were interpreted as pathological, and non-offending parents
were viewed as deficient and remiss in their duties as
7. The inclusion of child witnesses of domestic
violence in child welfare
Child witnesses of domestic violence were the last form of
child maltreatment to be formally recognized. It would take
twenty years after the 1974 child welfare policies for
policymakers to formally establish the inextricable
relationship between domestic violence and child
maltreatment. Again, the media was instrumental in bringing
light to the fact that children often witness domestic violence.
They were dubbed the “silent” or “forgotten” victims of
domestic violence (Edelson, 1999). The widespread public
attention led to a surge of research on child witnesses of
domestic violence (Kolbo, Blakelyand Engleman, 1996). In
1999, Edelson cited 84 existing studies on the effect of
domestic violence on children’s development. The review of
the literature documented problems associated with
behavioral, emotional, and cognitive functioning as well as
long-term developmental issues among children exposed to
domestic violence. Researchers also documented that children
are often witnesses of the abuse, putting them at risk for
physical harm (Holden, 2003). In addition, this research
established that child exposure to domestic violence was a
prevalent phenomenon (Edelson, 1999). It set the stage for the
development of policies and practices for children’s exposure
to domestic violence.
Following the language and philosophy of child
maltreatment at the time, child witnesses of domestic violence
discourse took a medical model, indicating exposure to be
deleterious to children’s wellbeing and warranting state
intervention. Policymakers used the body of evidence to
support criminal and civil policies for intervening in the lives
Greenwich Social Work Review, 2(2)
of children exposed to domestic violence (Edelson, 1999). In
1992, CAPTA was amended to include the Child Abuse,
Domestic Violence, Adoption, and Family Services Act,
which added State domestic violence coalitions under State
family violence programs and allocated funds for domestic
violence programs and interventions. This law put public child
welfare agencies in the position to protect children exposed to
domestic violence. In many cases, it resulted in children being
removed from homes where domestic violence occurred and
separated from their victimized, non-offending parents. Drake
and Johnson-Reid (2018) explain that a mother who does not
intervene to protect a child from an intimate partner may be
found by the child protective agency to be “failing to protect”
the child. In this way, state statutes identified non-offending
parents who are victims of abuse as perpetrators of child
The implication of domestic violence victims in child
maltreatment in state statutes created conflict between child
welfare agencies and domestic violence agencies. To remedy
this issue, the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 explicitly
supported meaningful collaborations between child protective
service entities and domestic violence service entities to
improve investigation, intervention, and services for child
witnesses of domestic violence. The US Senate Committee on
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (2010), which
approved the bill, made explicit their view that child exposure
to domestic violence should not be the sole determinant for
removal of a child from their home. They explained that
separating children from their non-offending, victimized
parent runs the risk of exacerbating the child’s psychological
injuries. They further encouraged states to invest in best
practices for early intervention of child witnesses of domestic
violence (US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor,
and Pensions, 2010). Their justification followed the leading
family-focused model of child welfare.
The Massachusetts Department of Social Services was one
of the first public agencies to address domestic violence as a
child welfare issue (Findlater and Kelly, 1999). In 1992, they
instituted a protocol for assessing and intervening in cases
involving domestic violence. Four states—Alaska, Georgia,
Utah, and Minnesota—followed in redefining domestic
violence in the presence of a child as a form of child
maltreatment (Kantor and Little, 2003). Minnesota was one of
the states at the forefront of this movement (Edleson,
Gassman-Pinesand Hill, 2006; Kantor and Little, 2003). In
1999, several committees of the 1999 Minnesota legislature
chose the goal of improving child protective services
statewide (Edleson, Gassman-Pinesand Hill, 2006). That year,
the legislative session heard testimony from academic
scholars on the effects of exposure to adult domestic violence
on child development, leading to the amendment of the
definition of child neglect to include a child’s exposure to
family violence (Edleson, Gassman-Pinesand Hill, 2006).
Edleson, Gassman-Pines and Hill (2006) indicate that,
shortly after its implementation, Minnesota’s statutes were
criticized. Domestic violence advocates took issue with the
expanded definition of child abuse, as it implicated victims in
causing harm to children and failed to provide needed
services. In addition, public child welfare agencies saw a
sizable increase in referrals for child exposure to domestic
violence that did not rise to the level of abuse. The agencies
were unable to meet the new demands, as the policy did not
appropriate additional funding to respond to the increased
demand. In response, a coalition of child welfare
administrators and domestic violence advocates successfully
lobbied for the repeal of exposure to domestic violence as a
form of child maltreatment (Edleson, Gassman-Pinesand Hill,
2006). The effects of these actions are still evident today, as
there are currently no civil or criminal child witnesses to
domestic violence statutes in Minnesota (Child Welfare
Information Gateway, 2021).
Research from the Child Welfare Information Gateway
(2021) shows that Minnesota is among the 24 states that do
not have civil or criminal statutes for child witnesses of
domestic violence. The remaining 26 states, and Puerto Rico,
impose criminal and civil penalties for acts of domestic
violence witnessed by children. The policies reflect the
dominant sentiment that violence in homes is harmful to
children’s health and safety. Though, there is less agreement
regarding what constitutes witnessed and the legal
consequences it carries. Some states interpret child witnesses
as those who are physically present or can “overhear the act of
violence”. Others have more broad definitions to include acts
of violence occurring in a residential unit or to an individual
related to the victim or perpetrator of the violence whether the
child is present or can see the commission of the offense.
Additionally, child exposure to domestic violence may be an
aggravating circumstance carrying more severe penalties or a
separate crime. There are also different legal consequences
such as mandated individual counseling or abuse intervention
(Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2021). The wide
interpretation of what constitutes exposure and the disparities
in the legal consequences are emblematic of the lack of clarity
in defining this type of child maltreatment.
8. Discussion
In the patriarchal sociopolitical climate of the Colonial
Period, children had little rights or protections. Colonists
Greenwich Social Work Review, 2(2)
believed that fathers had the right to treat children at their own
discretion. This led to industrial factories overrun with minor
children. Concerns for the safety and well-being of children
working in factories fueled calls for child labor laws and aid
to impoverished families to minimize the need for child labor.
These efforts ushered in the concept of child’s rights.
However, the concept was largely limited to the context of
labor and living conditions. The public did not formally
recognize child maltreatment by caregivers as a public issue
until the late twentieth century. It took a concerted effort by a
small segment of rank-and-file members who were
determined to bring to light the issue of child maltreatment.
They were successful in presenting child maltreatment as a
medical issue that trained professionals should treat. As such,
child welfare began as a medical model. Over time, it evolved
to a family-centered, strengths-based framework.
Like child sexual abuse, child witness of domestic
violence was introduced as a social and legal problem during
the era of the medical model of child welfare. This resulted in
children being removed from their non-offending mothers
who were victims of domestic violence. With the introduction
of family-focused practice models, these practices came under
scrutiny. Child welfare agencies have since been encouraged
to work collaboratively with domestic violence agencies. Still,
statutes continue to be rooted in a medical model of child
witnesses of domestic violence, which limits their
implementation, as was seen in Minnesota. As Edelson (1999)
points out, current statutes wrongfully implicate victims in
causing harm to their children, ignore their efforts to create
safety for their children, and overgeneralize the causal effects
of witnessing domestic violence on children. Attention is
needed to refine child witnesses of domestic violence statutes
and align them with the current model in child welfare that is
the family-focused strengths-based model.
8.1 Policy recommendations
Following the prevailing view of child welfare, state
policies and practices for child exposure to domestic violence
should be grounded in a family-focused, strengths-based
model. These policies should focus on family preservation
whenever possible. Because caregivers are important
resources to children, policies ought to avoid implicating the
non-offending caregiver in child maltreatment. There should
be clear language that identifies the perpetrator of abuse as the
offending party.
In addition, child welfare agencies should partner with the
family and build on their strengths and resources. Notably, this
is a strong departure from the medical model of child welfare.
Intervention is needed, but states should avoid excessive
penalties for child exposure to domestic violence. States
should emphasize partnering with families and connecting
them with community support services to prevent child
maltreatment or family disruption. Additionally, child welfare
agencies should establish clear protocols for what types of
interventions are needed based on the assessment of risk.
Ideally, child welfare agencies should move toward
standardizing these protocols.
Child welfare agencies should also have clear assessment
guidelines for understanding and identifying domestic
violence exposure as a threat to children’s safety. State statutes
should recognize the proximal factors or conditions that put
children at increased risk of harm. This may include: the
child’s proximity to victim when the violence occurred,
whether the child attempted to intervene in the altercation,
whether weapons/objects were used in a threatening or
intimidating manner, whether there was property was
damaged during the altercation, the type (strangulation,
pushing, hitting) and severity of the altercation, and whether
the child is fearful of the perpetrator (Henry, 2018).
Definitions of child exposure to domestic violence in state
statutes should be sufficiently broad to cover both direct and
indirect exposure. Statutes should recognize that children who
are present when violence occurs might sustain injury as
passive bystanders or in their efforts to intervene in the
altercation (Henry, 2018). Statutes should also recognize that
learning indirectly about acts of violence might be traumatic
(Howard, 2021). They may learn about domestic violence by
overhearing the details of the altercation (Dalgaar et al., 2016),
witnessing the aftermath of the violence, observing injuries or
the distressed effect in the victim (Thornton, 2014), and/or
unwittingly participating in trauma reenactments (Ancharoff,
Munroe and Fisher, 1998). Taken together, statutes should
recognize children’s vulnerability to domestic violence
whether they are present when the violence occurs.
9. Conclusion
This paper has outlined the evolution of child welfare in
order to highlight the underlying models and drivers. The
author has demonstrated that child welfare has evolved to a
family-focused strengths-based model. As such, child
witnesses of domestic violence statutes should similarly
follow a family-focused strengths-based practice model. They
should avoid implicating the non-offending, victim caregiver
in causing harm to children. They should clearly outline
assessment and intervention protocols that preserve the family
integrity. They should include direct and indirect forms of
exposure and highlight the proximal risk factors for harm to
children. Once definitions of children’s exposure to domestic
Greenwich Social Work Review, 2(2)
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and criminal penalties and child welfare policies can be
refined and strengthened to better serve children and families.
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