Department of Human Resources highlights the negative impact of domestic violence on the well-being of children

An estimated 3.3 to 10 million children are at risk of being exposed to domestic violence each year

 BALTIMORE, MARYLAND (October 5, 2011) – Today and throughout the month of October, the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) will highlight the negative impact of domestic violence on the well-being of children.  According to the American Medical Association, violence in the home among family members has reached epidemic proportions.  Nationally, family violence creates 100,000 days of hospitalization, 30,000 emergency room visits, and 40,000 trips to the doctor’s office each year.

“Domestic violence is a devastating social problem,” said Ted Dallas, secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources.  “When children are exposed to violence in their homes — even when they are not the victims of the violence — it is likely to negatively and dramatically affect their immediate and long-term well-being.”

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, one-half to two-thirds of the residents in domestic violence shelters are children.  It is estimated that 3.3 to 10 million children a year are at risk for witnessing or being exposed to domestic violence.

 Childhood problems associated with exposure to domestic violence fall into three primary categories: 

  • Behavioral, social, and emotional problems: Higher levels of aggression, anger, hostility, oppositional behavior, and disobedience; fear, anxiety, withdrawal, and depression; poor peer, sibling, and social relationships; and low self-esteem
  • Cognitive and attitudinal problems: Lower cognitive functioning, poor school performance, lack of conflict resolution skills, limited problem solving skills, pro-violence attitudes, and belief in rigid gender stereotypes and male privilege 
  • Long-term problems:  Higher levels of adult depression and trauma symptoms and increased tolerance for and use of violence in adult relationships  (National Adoption Information Clearinghouse 2003)

The Department’s 24 local departments of social services are utilizing a differential response strategy to address family violence as part of their family centered practice model.  The Family Centered Practice model engages the immediate and extended family to improve their ability to adequately plan for the care and safety of their children.  This holistic approach increases family interactions and improves immediate and long-term outcomes for children and families.


The Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) is the state’s primary social service provider, serving over one million people annually.  The Department, through its 24 local departments of social services, aggressively pursues opportunities to assist people in economic need, provide preventive services, and protect vulnerable children and adults in each of Maryland’s 24 counties. 

Filed in: DHS News

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