Skepticism may occur when it’s stated that at home abuse can lead a child to become a bully later in life. Considering what constitutes a case to become child abuse, what exactly it means when a child becomes a victim of abuse is hard to pinpoint.
Child abuse is when a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. This abuse can come in many forms including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse. Physical abuse of a child is when a caregiver causes non-accidental physical injuries to a child. Signs of physical abuse in a child will behave differently they may show signs of aggression toward peers or pets. Cases of sexual abuse is when an adult uses a child for sexual purposes or involves a child in sexual acts. After a child is sexually abused their behavior can become withdrawn, depressed or anxious. They can also show signs of aggression, delinquency, and have poor peer relationships. Emotional abuse is when a parent or caregiver harms a child’s mental and social development or causes severe emotional harm. Behavioral signs for children who have been emotionally abused include destructive or anti-social behaviors, violence and cruelty.
Abuse at home does not include a child being reprimanded for the way they were acting by being spanked or yelled at. It means that the child is consistently being hurt at home in which they start to fear for their survival within the home. Abuse within a home can come in many different forms they may have loving parent but abusive siblings or one parent may be caring but the other may not be. It’s difficult to precisely determine what fully qualifies at home abuse.
Believing that all children exposed to abuse at home become bullies may be naive. Not every child will grow up to be a bully some of these children may escape their fate. Or it may be argued that some children who bully do not experience abuse at home at all.
According to a study by researchers from the University of Washington and Indiana University, children who are exposed to violence in the home engaged higher levels of physical bullying than children who were not witnesses to this behavior. This study was the first to examine the association between child exposure to intimate partner violence and the involvement in bullying.
In the study they found the thirty-four percent of children that were studied engaged in bullying and seventy-three percent reported being the victim of some form of bullying with in previous years. It also found that ninety-seven percent of the bullies said that they were also victims of bullying themselves.
Lead author of the study, former UW pediatrician and now an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indian and Riley Children’s Hospital Nerissa Bauer states “Parents are very powerful role models and children will mimic the behavior of parents, wanting to be like them. They may believe that violence is OK and they can use it with peers. After all, they may think, ‘If Daddy can do this, perhaps I can hit this kid to get my way.’ When parents engage in violence, children may assume violence is the right way to do thing.”
Data from the study was drawn from the ongoing Seattle Social Development Project and the Intergenerational Projects, tracing youth development and social/ antisocial behavior. “Participants in these long-term studies were recruited from Seattle elementary schools, and 808 students (generation 2), their parents (generation 1) and their children (generation 3) have been followed since 1985.” The study looked at the behavior of 112 children form the third generation between the ages of six and thirteen, ages who are not normally studied in bullying research.
The study particularly focused on partner violence which is a broader term for domestic violence, physical, emotional or sexual acts of violence including couples who aren’t married or living together. In 2000 a federal study showed an estimate between 3.3 and 10 million children are exposed to intimate partner violence.
The study found that seeing domestic violence does not lead to children becoming bullies. “Physicians and teachers should be sensitive that when children display behavior issues that the possibility of domestic violence in the family exists. Not all children exposed to violence will respond in the same way, but there are many indirect effects and problems that you can see, such as engaging in bullying, not being able to make friends, not eating or those with extended school absences. But not all bullies come from violent families.” Bauer stated.
This study shows that in some cases children who are exposed to domestic violence may become aggressive toward other children. It is hard to determine what constitutes at home abuse and effectively take statistics of the children who bully that were also victims of bullying at home. But it shows that children who are exposed to at home violence may be more likely to become aggressive towards others.
Schwarz, J. (2006, September 12). Violence in the home leads to higher rates of childhood bullying. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from https://www.washington.edu/news/2006/09/12/violence-in-the-home-leads-to-higher-rates-of-childhood-bullying/
What is Child Abuse. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse/