The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children’s Education

A home is the haven of safety, the four walls within which one can feel protected from the big wide world outside. This exact idea of home can be flipped at its core, when it becomes the very space that can frighten, threaten and harm you. It’s not so much the home –its four walls—that does this but rather a specific nature of person inhabiting it. Domestic violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a worldwide problem that often does not dare to leave its walls. Most often, women and children are the victims of their husbands’ and fathers’ physical, emotional, sexual and/or economical abuse. Men also go through abuse but this form of abuse is largely gendered and exploits the power dynamics of the patriarchy that
insists of oppression of women.

Research and surveys make visible this silenced, suppressed form of abuse. In India, the National Crime Records Bureau shows that reports are filed every 5 minutes, in rural and urban areas. 41% of women experience domestic violence in their lifetime due to major reasons such as dowry disputes, patriarchy, the inability to bear sons etc that fuel perpetrators to continue this abuse in domestic environments.

The impact IPV has is not only on the woman, but also her children. There is a strong link between domestic abuse and child abuse, whether direct or indirect. The Human Development Survey (IHDS) study shows that IPV affects the psychological and physical health of the mother and child, creating an instable, fearful and insecure environment, which leads to negative effects on the child’s education.

Even with the finest education, if the disruption of the child’s mental-physical health due to domestic violence is not addressed, one cannot fully understand the needs for the child’s effective learning. Their schooling and quality of education is compromised due to the consequences of domestic violence. The abused children go through emotional trauma, physical and psychological barriers (such as low-self-esteem, aggression, depression etc) to learning, often materialising in disruptive behaviour in school.

Teachers play a key role in identifying and responding to these behaviours by understanding the root cause–violent homes. The school becomes the safe space of learning and building awareness, and tools to help the child learn effectively. It makes a huge difference in children’s lives, as education empowers them to create their own future. This vital area requires great reform because children are the future. Their own future as well as the nation’s development will forever remain interlinked.