The needs of children exposed to family violence are not being recognised – new research findings shine a light on at risk group

14 June 2017

Released today, 'What works for children exposed to family violence?' brings together evidence about the best interventions which make a positive difference to these children’s lives.

The main finding of this paper is that the harm caused by family violence exposure is just as harmful as the harm caused by direct abuse. ‘Exposure’ to family violence is damaging no matter whether the child sees, hears, is directly involved, or experiences the aftermath of violence in their family.

This release shines a light on a group of children who need more support from the social sector systems. These children are being exposed to family violence; however, because they are not suffering from physical abuse there are too few pathways for them to seek support, and the supportive services we do have on offer are not catering for the needs of this group of children.  

Superu Chief Executive, Clare Ward says “Our current response to providing support to these children is targeted only at the ones who are direct victims of physical abuse, but not for the ones who experience family violence in other ways.”

“Attention should be turned to intervention at the earliest stages as that’s when the child’s outcomes are most likely to be improved. The younger the child, the greater the potential harm.”

Ward added “We need more evidence in the New Zealand context about this issue. “Interventions should have the right cultural fit for the child, as well as catering for children of different ages and with different experiences.”

This research aims to be useful for those people who develop policy or run support services for these children to keep themselves safe. Superu’s ‘What Works’ synthesis products answer complex questions on specific social issues and add to the evidence-base.

Last update: 14 Jun 2017