The Children’s Rights Commissioner is calling for a national focus on the needs of children affected by domestic violence, with new data showing one in 12 people have experienced physical abuse by a family member as a child.
The Children’s Rights Report being released today found one in every 28 people had also experienced sexual abuse as a child, while a further 23 per cent of children have witnessed violence against their mother.
“You can think about an average class of teenagers, that’s at least four or five kids in every class that have either witnessed or experienced violence as direct victims,” Commissioner Megan Mitchell said.
She said too often children who live in violent households are the silent, forgotten and invisible victims.
“People would be shocked at the statistics about how many victims of physical and sexual violence there are of children,” she said.
Ms Mitchell said family violence can have a devastating and long lasting impact.
“We know that early exposure to family violence can have lifelong implications in terms of physical and mental health, substance abuse, employment, capacity to form healthy relationships,” she said.
“But we also know that family violence can manifest itself negatively in child development, and has been directly linked to a range of mood and personality disorders, impaired cognitive functioning and learning anti-social and aggressive behaviour.
“These are not the conditions for children to thrive.