Investigating the immediate and long-term effects of witnessing
family violence on children's health and well-being.
The research will provide decision makers with evidence to help
plan programs for the prevention of family violence and/or for effective
intervention to reduce the risk to children living in environments where family
The Invisible Victims of Family Violence
Family violence is often described as a hidden problem. The
violence, though, is only hidden from society, not from the children who live
in these families.
An estimated one to two million children in Canada witness violence
at home. Dr. Judee Onyskiw is examining how children cope in these situations
and the long-term effects that witnessing violence has on their health and
development. The goal of her research is to make the invisible victims of
violence more visible.
Research has shown that children exposed to family violence have
more social, emotional, and behavioural problems than children who have not
been exposed. However, little is known about the impact of witnessing violence
on the children's health, especially in the long term. Dr. Onyskiw is studying
children at multiple points in time to order to fill this important gap in our
knowledge. She is devoting part of her time as a Canada Research Chair to
examining the causal mechanisms underlying the association between witnessing
violence and children's adjustment.
Dr. Onyskiw is also taking a look at the role of protective factors
in order to understand why some children do well despite having to cope with
this adversity in their lives. Once protective factors have been identified,
they will become logical targets of preventive interventions/programs for
children who live in violent families.