Knowledge + Resources
The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
The commercial sexual exploitation of children consists of criminal practices that demean, degrade and threaten the physical and psychosocial integrity of children. There are three primary and interrelated forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children: prostitution, pornography and trafficking for sexual purposes. Other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children include child sex tourism, child marriages and forced marriages.
The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a fundamental violation of human rights and children’s rights. The key element is that this violation of children and their rights arises through a commercial transaction of some sort. That is, there is an exchange in which one or more parties gain a benefit—cash, goods or kind—from the exploitation for sexual purposes of someone aged below 18. The significance of defining in-kind transactions as commercial in nature should not be underestimated, not only because they are very common, but also because there is a tendency to view some such transactions as entailing ‘consent’ on the part of a child. This includes cases where sexual exploitation occurs in exchange for protection, a place to sleep, or access to higher grades and/or promotion. The sexual exploitation of the child may profit a much wider range of people than the immediate beneficiary of the transaction.
The remuneration factor distinguishes CSEC from the sexual abuse of a child where commercial gain is apparently absent, although sexual exploitation is also abuse. At the same time, it must be noted that there is a clear link between non-commercial sexual abuse of a child and the increased vulnerability of an abused child to commercial sexual exploitation.
The conceptual distinction, however, is not always clarified or agreed upon. Yet effective counter-action requires that the concept and reality of the commercial sexual exploitation of children be well-understood by all agents and communities at large as a particular form of abuse that requires a different kind of preventive approach than measures aimed solely at eliminating non-commercial sexual abuse of children. This is even as counter-measures against all forms of sexual abuse need to be complementary and holistic.
That said, there are crimes committed against children that are widely understood to involve commercial sexual exploitation. Many of these crimes are interlinked: the prostitution of children, trafficking of children for sexual purposes, and child pornography (although pornography may also be distributed for no commercial gain). Child sex tourism generally falls into the category of prostitution (although its nature as such is not always clear), and it links into trafficking and the use of children to make pornography.
More contentious is the classification of child marriage and forced marriage as forms of CSEC. With the age of majority in countries around the world ranging from nine to 18, it is possible for a child to be legally contracted in marriage as a sexual partner. Such marriages generally involve members of the child’s family contracting an exchange for a child as a sexual partner in exchange for a dowry and/or other financial or in-kind consideration.
Other more hidden forms of CSEC include domestic servitude and/or bonded labour where a child is contracted to provide work and this is understood to include the child being used for sexual purposes.
The definition and understanding of CSEC, and its many forms, have evolved in recent years in accordance with greater analysis and newly acquired knowledge. Commercial sexual exploitation is increasingly seen to apply to many situations, such as child marriage, where there may have been a failure in the past to focus analysis on the contractual or commercial exchange that allows for sexual exploitation. In line with this, the concept of the exploiter has also been sharpened, highlighting the wide variety of people who contribute to the exploitation of a child: parents and other family members, friends, peers and teachers, as well as procurers, brothel managers, traffickers and those who engage in sex with a child.
CSEC is complex and attempts to define it by reducing the term down to the phenomenon’s core attributes must not result in minimising the focus on all specifics and the significant factors at play. For example, the descriptive term ‘commercial sexual exploitation’ does not always bring to mind quickly the violence inflicted in its practice. As well, the term’s focus on children as victims of exploitation may inadvertently shift attention from the perpetrators. As such, it is critical that use of the term ‘commercial sexual exploitation of children’ always be explained and expanded upon, in any context.
The Abuse of Children in Coerced Prostitution
” . . . the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration.”
– Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Article 2(b).
As the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) notes, the prostitution of children is one manifestation of the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration. Most generally, it means that a party other than the child benefits from a commercial transaction in which the child is made available for sexual purposes – either an exploiter intermediary (pimp) who controls or oversees the child’s activities for profit, or an abuser who negotiates an exchange directly with a child in order to receive sexual gratification. The provision of children for sexual purposes may also be a medium of exchange between adults. The prostitution of children is closely connected to the trafficking of children for sexual purposes and child pornography, while child sex tourism generally falls into the category of prostitution.
The prostitution of children is usually conducted in particular environments, such as from brothels, or bars and clubs, or homes, or particular streets and zones. Sometimes it is not organised, but most usually it is, either on a small scale through individual exploiter-pimps or on a large scale through extensive criminal networks. Children also engage in prostitution, however, when they exchange sex outside these locations and in return not only for basic needs such as accommodation, food, clothing, drugs or safety, but also for favours such as higher grades at school or extra pocket money for desired consumer goods otherwise out of their reach. In all these cases, the key issue is not that children opt to engage in prostitution in order to survive on the one hand or to buy more consumer goods on the other, but that children are pushed by social structures and individual agents into situations in which adults take advantage of their vulnerability and sexually exploit and abuse them. An all too common example of structure and agency combining to force a child into commercial sex is where the prostitution of a child follows on from prior sexual abuse, most likely in the home.
Child prostitution is the most commonly used term in relation to commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), and the most clearly identifiable manifestation of CSEC, as opposed to commercial sexual exploitation through child marriage, domestic labour and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. It was the limitations of the term ‘child prostitution’ that led to the development in the mid-1990s of “commercial sexual exploitation of children” as a more encompassing description of specific forms of sexual violence against children. Nevertheless, “child prostitution” remains in common usage and is indeed embedded in international instruments. Yet “child prostitution” and “child prostitute” continue to carry problematic connotations. This is because these constructions, on their own, fail to make it clear that children cannot be expected to make an informed choice to prostitute themselves; the act of prostituting a child is in fact carried out by another party, as is made clear in the definition provided by the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. These terms do not adequately express a child’s experience of force, exploitation, and physical and psychological harm inflicted through their engagement in prostitution. In addition, worldwide public understanding of “prostitution” and “prostitute” has been shifting as a result of the introduction of terms such as “sex worker”, intended to raise the perceived status of women in prostitution. However, when it comes to children, to refer to “sex work” is wholly misleading; again, it downplays the criminal exploitation committed against a child forced into prostitution and suggests that a child “worker” has somehow chosen to follow a “profession”. In light of these concerns, it is preferable to avoid the term “child prostitute” altogether, and always to make it clear that a child engaged in prostitution has been forced by other people and by circumstances into commercial sex. It is adults who create “child prostitution” through their demand for children as sexual objects, their misuse of power and their desire for profit.
The Exploitation of Children in Pornography
Child pornography is a violation against children. It involves sexual abuse and exploitation of children and is linked to the prostitution of children, child sex tourism and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. While individual and community understandings of child pornography may vary within and between societies, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Article 34, commits signatories to act to prevent “the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials”. The Convention’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography expands on this to offer a good general description of child pornography. But a more comprehensive definition that more adequately addresses computer-generated images is incorporated into the Council of Europe’s Convention on Cybercrime (although the scope for its application remains limited geographically).
There are many different kinds of child pornography materials, made available through a variety of media, but essentially they involve depicting a child or children in a manner that is intended to aid sexual arousal and gratification. Hard-core materials depict a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or lewdly depict parts of a child’s body. Soft-core pornography is not sexually explicit but involves naked and seductive images. Child pornography includes not only the use of real children to make these materials but also artificially created imagery. This ‘virtual’ material is usually referred to as pseudo-child pornography, and includes digitally created images and ‘morphed’, or blended, images of adults and children. ‘Pseudo’ in this sense, however, should be used warily. Its synonymic link to ‘false’ could have the effect of downplaying the exploitative significance of such imagery and its power to normalise images of child sexual abuse and to incite sexual exploitation of children (under the pretext of such pornography not being ‘real’). It is with reference to these kinds of images that the Convention on Cybercrime’s definition is worthy of emulation.
General definitions of child pornography most commonly focus on visual representations of a child, and audio materials to a lesser extent. They do not tend to incorporate sexualised depictions of children or very young-looking people in mainstream media. As well, many definitions appear to overlook texts that describe sexual acts and/or fantasies involving children, although the term ‘pornography’ was coined in reference to writing (originally from pornographos, for writing about prostitutes). This creates difficulties in pursuing prosecutions for the possession of pornographic texts depicting sex with children.
Child pornography exploits children in many different ways. Firstly, children may be physically forced or coerced to engage in making it. This involves direct sexual abuse and exploitation. Pornographic images of children are often copied multiple times and may remain in circulation for many years; the victim continues to be subjected to humiliation long after the image has been made.
Secondly, those who ‘consume’ and/or possess pornographic depictions of children are arguably continuing to exploit these children. Such people, who are not necessarily paedophiles or preferential abusers, may be a step removed from the making of child pornography (though very often they make it themselves). But their demand for images of children maintains the incentive to produce such material, thus furthering the abuse and exploitation of yet more children. At the same time, there is evidence that the use of child pornography does incite some people to sexually abuse other children. There are cases where offenders only begin to abuse children after being exposed to child pornography. In any case, the person who views images of child abuse – seeking sexual gratification from the victimisation of a child – is an abuser too, whether or not they make pornography and whether or not they seek sex with other children as a result of the sexual stimulation and validation provided by their use of child pornography. In the same way, the consumption of simulated materials not only degrades and victimises children in general, but it has the same potential to encourage actual sexual abuse of a child.
Thirdly, it is common for child sexual abusers and exploiters to use pornographic materials to lower a child’s inhibitions and to entice or coerce them into engaging in inappropriate sexual behaviour. This crime can be committed using materials depicting real or ‘virtual’ children.
Finally, the makers of pornography also commonly use their products to intimidate and blackmail the children used in the making of such material.
Child pornography is made by child abusers. It is often distributed for no commercial gain, and this sharing works to rationalise and establish a sexual desire for children in the public realm. It is also used to establish trust among paedophiles and preferential abusers, as well as to gain entrance to private ‘clubs’. But increasing distribution via the Internet appears to be creating more commercial opportunities, and much child pornography is now produced and sold for profit through the Internet. As a result of relatively easy and supposedly anonymous access, more people who might not be defined technically as paedophiles or preferential abusers are said to be viewing, trading, downloading and keeping online child pornography, while new technology is also facilitating the development and reach of well-organised networks of child sex abusers who also produce and distribute child pornography for profit. As well, the technological sophistication of the global distribution of child pornography over the net is making it more and more difficult for national law enforcement authorities to launch successful crackdowns and prosecutions locally.
Definitions of child pornography may seem similar, but there are variations in understandings between organisations and between States, as well as between sub-State jurisdictions. This has implications for law enforcement. For example, in many countries, legal definitions of pornography refer to definitions of obscenity that identify a wide range of different images, only some of which may be illegal and thus limiting the response of law enforcement. Similarly, in some countries it is assumed that there is no legal basis for the police to intervene or take action against the abusers and exploiters of a child if that child has reached the legal age of consent, which may be below 18. But, in keeping with the CRC, young people aged under 18 cannot be expected to give full and informed consent to the making of pornographic material. Again, the definition of a child is a critical issue in all matters related to child protection, and child pornography specifically.
Children & Sex Tourism
Child sex tourism involves the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) whereby children are exploited by men or women who travel from one place to another, usually from a richer country to one that is less developed, and there engage in sexual acts with children, defined as anyone aged under 18. Much of this industry is driven by online sites that cloak themselves using state-of-the-art Internet technology. These sites move frequently, and use encrypted messaging to notify “clients” of new venues and tours offered. Progeny operatives are vigorously active worldwide in tracking the activities of those whose specific purpose is to commercially exploit children, and those who prey on children for their own sexual gratification.
It takes various forms, but generally it is about adult men who, in the course of traveling away from home, pay in cash or kind for sex with children. While some women engage in such violations, they represent less than 5% of sexual offenders.
Child sex tourists may not have a specific preference for children as sexual partners but take advantage of a situation in which children are made available to them for sexual exploitation. It is often the case that these people have traveled from a wealthier country (or a richer town or region within a country) to a less-developed destination, where poorer economic conditions, favorable exchange rates for the traveler and relative anonymity are key factors conditioning their behavior and sex tourism. The visitors’ demand for sex then fuels the further provision of children for exploitation. It should be noted that sex tourists are not just holiday-makers but also others whose occupations take them to destinations away from home, such as business people, transport industry workers and military personnel. Similarly, sex exploiters are not necessarily foreigners as one can be away from home within one’s own country. Nevertheless, it is the transnational character of child sex tourism that has served to highlight the issue.
A traveler may not intend to engage in sex with children while he is away from home, but he does so because a child is made easily available to him. Opportunistic exploitation, then, along with organized child sex tourism, is a critical factor compounding the complex socio-economic factors that push children into local prostitution industries. This globalize cycle is also crucially interlinked with the trafficking of women and children and the pornography industry.
Travelers may rationalize their sexual exploitation of children by adopting an assumption that sex with a child is culturally acceptable in the place that they are visiting. This assumption may be lent weight where law enforcement authorities fail to punish crimes against children or where it is known that legal action may be offset through bribery. While prostitution of children may be illegal, a blind eye often seems to be turned to such offences when foreigners and the wealthy are involved. In this sense, the economic benefits derived from tourism often override a national government’s commitment to prosecute and punish all crimes against children through national laws and international instruments that ensure the protection of children against sex exploiters in tourism.
While the definition of child sex tourism has been continuously refined, building on greater understanding of its scope and manifestations, the fundamental protection of children against commercial sexual exploitation is addressed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), specifically in Articles 34, 35, 36 and 19. The CRC commits signatories to ensuring that children are protected from sexual exploitation and abuse, including prostitution and pornography. Article 34 recognizes the cross-border aspects of the sexual exploitation of children, as is often the case in child sex tourism, by requiring governments to take action through national, bilateral and multilateral measures. Article 35 calls for similar action with regard to the abduction, sale and trafficking of children, which is linked to the global child sex industry.
The CRC position on child sex tourism is strengthened by the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, which expresses explicit concern about child sex tourism. Article 10 commits signatories to: “… take all necessary steps to strengthen international cooperation by multilateral, regional and bilateral arrangements for the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment of those responsible for acts involving the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sex tourism. States Parties shall also promote international cooperation and coordination between their authorities, national and international non-governmental organizations and international organizations.” In addition, there is the Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, which supplements the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and further protects children from trafficking for sexual and other purposes
It is of critical importance in the fight to protect all children that the complexity of child sex tourism be commonly understood. It requires a definition that has practical application to address the problem from various locally specific sites and also to anticipate and counter ‘transnational creep’, an effect whereby a crackdown in one place results in the problem shifting to a new location.
Paedophilia is a clinical term for adults who are primarily sexually attracted to prepubertal children. The commonly cited Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders describes paedophilia as “the act or fantasy of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children as a repeatedly preferred or exclusive method of achieving sexual excitement . . . Isolated sexual acts with children do not warrant the [clinical] diagnosis of paedophilia”. The manual adds that a person who fits this diagnosis would have to be at least 16 years old and five years older than the child to whom their sexual fantasies are directed. Technically, only a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist could be expected to diagnose paedophilia.
Paedophiles may focus on either boys or girls, or have no gender preference. Not all paedophiles sexually abuse or harass children. Some may have fantasies about sex with children but they do not act them out with a child (although they may use child pornography). Others may abuse children in different ways, including non-physical sexual abuse and exploitation. While the wider society tends to regard the paedophile profile as that of a predatory stranger, it is more common for children who are abused by paedophiles to suffer this abuse within a familiar environment at the hands of family, friends, relatives or babysitters. Most clinically definable paedophiles are male; female paedophiles exist but are rare. Generally, paedophiles do not regard their sexual interaction with children as wrong.
Clinical paedophilia is diagnosed on the basis of persistent fantasies or sexual urges towards children. As a result, paedophilia in itself is not deemed a criminal offence, as it need not involve criminal sexual acts with children. Recent debates within the psychiatric and mental health community regarding the classification of paedophilia as a mental disorder have highlighted the fact that the term was evolved as a diagnostic category mainly for clinical and research purposes and therefore it does not meet criteria for use as a legal term. This means that sexual crimes committed by paedophiles against children are not legally referred to as paedophilia, as the term refers to the clinical condition of the offender and not the criminal offence.
Closely associated with paedophilia is the term “preferential abuse”, which refers to people who focus on pubescent children as sexual partners or objects. This kind of sexual preference is also regarded within medical circles as a personality disorder, otherwise known as hebephilia or ephebophilia.
Nevertheless, the term “paedophile” is commonly applied in a more general sense to refer to all adult sexual attraction and sexual acts against children regardless of the physical maturity of a child (that is, whether or not a child is biologically prepubescent) and irrespective of the “clinically defined” status of the abuser and the context in which the abuse occurs. This broadening of the clinical term beyond the biological focus has occurred in the context of international efforts to strengthen the protection of children through harmonisation of national laws and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines a child as any person up to the age of 18.
Legal and law enforcement agents tend to blur the distinction between the sexual abuse of children by paedophiles and by non-paedophiles, treating all offenders convicted of sexual crimes against children as “paedophile” and also adopting a more socio-legal definition of “child”. Health-care professionals also commonly refer to preferential sexual abuse of children as paedophilia. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for example, defines a paedophile as: “A significantly older person who prefers to have sex with persons who according to the law are children. His sexual fantasies are focused on children.” This definition highlights that legal and law-enforcement agents use the term to focus on the age of the victim and the behaviour of the abuser. Although paedophilia in itself is not usually deemed a criminal offence, it is often associated with crimes against children, including sexual abuse and pornography-related offences.
Paedophile involvement with child pornography ranges from using children to make it (either for individual consumption or wider commercial and non-commercial distribution) to employing it as part of a process of “groomin” a child, whereby the abuser manipulates and coerces a child into sexual contact, lowering their inhibitions by introducing them to pornography. Pornography-sharing is a critical component of paedophile networks, membership of which presumably helps paedophiles to rationalise and normalise their understanding of their sexual preferences. (It should be noted, however, that not only paedophiles or even preferential abusers make and access child pornography.) These paedophile groups share information and, aside from dealing in pornography, may operate as organised international child abuse networks. New technology now plays a critical role in facilitating this sharing of pornography and information, while also providing committed paedophiles with access to more children via the Internet, especially through chatrooms that are popular with children. At the same time, the Internet is said to be playing a key role in encouraging an interest in child pornography among people who might not see themselves as having a specific interest in child sex. The relatively easy access to depictions of child abuse fuels sexual fantasies about children and is believed to play an important part in contributing to or reinforcing paedophile behaviour.
The misuse of terminology results in confusion about the profile of child sexual abusers, most of whom are not, technically speaking, paedophiles or even preferential abusers. The majority of child sex abusers are situational abusers. They are usually men who use a child for sex because the child is made available to them, most commonly through prostitution or within the family. The situational abuser does not usually have a specific sexual preference for children. Situational abusers are generally regarded as opportunistic and indiscriminate, though it may nevertheless be the case that they prefer as a sexual partner someone who fulfils socially defined ideals of beauty and sexuality, such as looking young and/or physically immature. Public perceptions of those labelled paedophiles as a marginal group of people who seek sex with children may, in fact, deflect attention from the increasing sexualisation of children, especially girls, in various cultures, as well as the prevalence of sexual abuse and exploitation among the general population.
The common link between all sexual abusers of children is that they have sexual encounters with a child or young person who is, or appears to be, vulnerable, immature and powerless. These encounters include the use of child pornography. As such, the terms paedophile or preferential abuser should be used very warily and in a way that does not shield the majority of child sexual abusers who are not defined as suffering from a clinical disorder.
Defining Paederasty (Pederasty)
Pederasty or paederasty (literally ‘boy-love’) refers to a sexual relationship, expressed or not, between an adolescent boy and an adult male. Pederasty has existed from earliest times through a variety of customs and practices within different cultures.
In the past century, the term pederasty has seen a number of different uses. In the classic and academic sense, it refers to the erotic relationship between an adult male and an adolescent boy. Such relationships may be sexually expressed or not, consensual or nonconsensual, sentimental or commercial, and their legality will vary depending on local age of consent laws, sexual assault laws, and prohibitions on homosexuality. The term can also be employed of the attraction of the man to the boy, whether or not reciprocated.
Pederasty is contrasted with the other two forms of male homosexuality, androphilia and gender-structured relations, which are currently prevalent in modern industrialized societies. It is generally not used for lesbian relations. The term has also been used, at times in legal parlance, to refer to relations with minors below the age of consent regardless of sex or age.
In the West, it was first represented by the institutions of Ancient Greece, where it reached its height in 5th century BC, when legal and moral sanctions were made against it. There it was the subject of philosophic debates and legal oratory in which penetrative sex was unfavorably compared with erotic relationships which did not debase either of the participants. Later repression of male love culminating in the persecution of homosexuals during Mediaeval times and the Spanish Inquisition and Renaissance Italy also stemmed from the growing Christian movements in Europe.
Starting with Geoffrey Gorer in 1966, anthropologists have postulated three subdivisions of homosexuality as age-structured, egalitarian and gender-structured. Pederasty as a cross-cultural phenomenon is considered the predominant expression of male-male sexuality as viewed through historical record, though the practice has varied significantly within different cultures. It has been associated with coming-of-age ritual, the acquisition of virility and manly virtue, educational aspiration and the pederastic military use of teenagers.
The Western model of male adult relations is seen by researchers as a departure from this norm since it has rarely appeared as a pattern in other times and places. Unlike the other models, it ‘assumes that homosexuality is not merely a behavior, but something innate to a person’s real being.’ In such societies, the practise of pederasty tends to be condemned at a legal and moral level:
- “In some countries, such as England, pederasty is considered to be pedophilia, and in the United States most agree that pederasty is the abuse of boys, especially those between 12 and 16 years old (Crosson-Tower 2007)
In this sense, such cultures do not see the practise of pederasty as something in line with any ideological or traditional model, but rather that the behaviour has become partially integrated into the Child Sexual Abuse model.
Domestic Violence & Child Abuse
Domestic violence is the result of a family member’s unrestrained abusive behavior. Domestic violence is not unprecedented, nor is it characteristic of a single country/society. It occurs in all countries and affects all classes, races, religions, and genders. It can be generated by such factors as times of parental, financial, or marital stress, drug or alcohol problems, or the desire of one family member to express dominance over the other. But abusive behavior cannot be justified. Simply put, domestic violence is unacceptable.
Types of Domestic Abuse
Domestic child abuse can take many forms. Emotional abuse, for instance, occurs when verbal attacks are invoked towards the child. Such abuse can also occur through the abuser’s controlling and/or limiting the victim’s rights, isolating him/her from society, and destroying the child’s personal property. Neglect is the utter disregard for the welfare of the child, and is often exhibited in homes where the adults are substance abusers. Physical abuse is the intentional infliction of bodily harm through punching, whipping, kicking, etc. These actions may escalate into even more fatal attacks, such as strangling, forced ingestion of an unwanted substance, or the breaking of bones. Domestic sexual abuse is the act of performing unsolicited sexual intimacy upon the child, and may accompany physical abuse. Constant sexual jokes or insults may also be classified as sexual abuse.
The Cycle of Domestic Abuse
Abuse in the home has been known to have a certain cycle, which continues so long does the witness/victim of the abuse continues to live in denial. This cycle can be divided into three phases: the escalation phase, the acute battering phase, and the honeymoon phase. In the escalation phase, relatively minor occurrences of abuse occur. The victim, sensing the escalating tension, attempts to appease the abuser to lower his/her vulnerability. In the acute battering phase, the emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse is executed. In the honeymoon phase the abuser acts apologetically towards his/her victim, creating the illusion that the abuse will never occur again. But the sorrow eventually ceases and the escalation phase begins again, initializing the same cycle.
The above cycle is not the only cycle generated by domestic abuse. Recent studies have shown that children who have experienced domestic abuse have a 74% higher chance of becoming domestic abusers themselves than those who have lived in nonviolent homes.
Effects of Domestic Abuse
Exposure to domestic abuse may lead to substantial negative effects on children’s development. Such effects include misconduct, depression, timidity, poor academic performance, and even mental disorders such as paranoia and post-traumatic stress.
By the time children reach adolescence, they are becoming conscious of ways of acting and thinking that are different from the abusive ways that they have been exposed to. But will the child, who has been exposed to domestic violence, have been too influenced to be able to engage in positive ways of social interaction? Fortunately, abusive behavior is just that…a behavior. It is learned and can therefore be changed. With the help of therapeutic services, it is possible for victims/victimizers of abuse to be healed, no matter how influenced they have been.