Children learn from the early years of their life what is right and what is wrong. They do this by observing the behavior of their parents, or those adults closest to them. Therefore, if a minor is in a household that experiences acts of domestic violence, the child is more likely to mimic the behavior later in life. According to the Office of Women’s Health (OWH), more than 15 million children live in homes that have experienced domestic violence at least once. These children are more at risk for abusive acts that can lead to being arrested and charged with simple assault.
The Reality of Children Caught in Abusive Households
Illinois law defines domestic violence as any one member of a household causing injury by means of choking, biting, hitting and similar acts to any other member of the household including:
People who share the home
People with disabilities and their assistants
When a child is caught in the middle, it does not matter if he or she is being physically abused. The abusive behavior will still affect his or her mental health. The OWH reported that children who witness domestic violence can develop anxiety and depression when they become teenagers. Minors can also experience symptoms of poor self-esteem and even have their physical health be put at risk of diabetes, heart failure, and obesity.
The best thing a parent can do to keep his or her child away from any abusive behavior is to get out of the relationship--however hard it may be--to protect from any negative long-term effects.
How Does a Child Become the Abuser?
Children who see violence happening in the household can think that it is normal behavior and can act violently to either conform or to protect themselves from others. Teenagers can become bullies out of self-defense so they do not have to suffer more abuse.
In many cases, when minors become abusive, they target their violence toward those who share domestic space with them, according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The report concluded that one in every 12 cases of domestic violence that was brought to authorities nationwide involved an abuser under the age of 18 years old. It also stated that juveniles are more violent the older they get, as shown by these statistics:
16 percent of reported assaults were by minors under 12 years old.
25 percent of reported assaults were by minors ages 12-17 years old.
44 percent of reported assaults were by recent adults ages 18-25 years old.
These offenders can be arrested and taken to court to face simple assault charges. Depending on the nature of the crime, a child can face time in a juvenile detention facility, fines, and/or community service.
Contact a Joliet, IL Criminal Defense Attorney
Any case of domestic violence should be taken seriously. In many instances, a pattern of abusive behavior starts with parents or adults and transfers to a child in the household. It is important to know that even minors can be charged with simple assault in domestic abuse situations. If you or your child is facing charges of domestic violence, hire a lawyer from the Law Offices of Tedone & Morton, P.C. to help defend you from consequences. To schedule a free consultation with a Will County domestic violence defense lawyer, call 815-666-1285.