Research Team
Links for Parents

Research Involves

Investigating the immediate and long-term effects of witnessing family violence on children's health and well-being.

Research Relevance

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 violence exists.

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.