How Domestic Violence Impacts Jackson County Children

It’s one thing to know that thousands of children in the United States are victims of, and witnesses to, domestic violence each year. It’s quite another to realize how many of those kids are Jackson County kids. Our kids. 

Jackson County Domestic Violence By the Numbers

From July 2020 – June 2021, the Missouri Department of Social Services Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline Unit (CANHU) received 54,000 reported incidents involving more than 77,000 children. In Jackson County:

  • 8,712 children were involved in hotline reports (2nd only to St. Louis County)
  • 339 children were reported with substantiated abuse or neglect (the highest in the state)
  • 7 children died

Newhouse, a Kansas City nonprofit working with survivors of domestic violence, has their own crisis hotline. In 2021, they answered 7,312 hotline calls, and provided 12,019 safe days and nights.  The Child Protection Center, another local nonprofit that works with young Jackson County abuse victims, serves around 800 children each year.

As high as these numbers are, they’re just a small snapshot of the critical need to fund Jackson County programs working toward the prevention, intervention, and treatment of domestic violence. 

Effects of Domestic Violence During Childhood

Domestic violence (also known as Intimate Partner Violence, or IPV), can take many forms. Controlling behaviors, intimidation, chronic yelling or arguing, threats involving weapons, and physical injuries are some of the indicators of domestic violence. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in a home where there’s violence between partners, there’s a 45% – 60% chance that child abuse is also occuring. And even if they’re not the ones being physically attacked, they witness 68% – 80% of domestic assaults.

This kind of exposure has both short-term and long-term effects on children. In the short term, children tend to react differently, depending on their age. Here are some of the possible reactions and symptoms:

Birth to 5

  • Developmental regression, loss of skills
  • Sleep and/or eating disruptions
  • Severe separation anxiety
  • Increased aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Intense anxiety and/or new fears

Ages 6 – 11

  • Difficulty concentrating and completing tasks
  • Aggression
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Difficulty with peer relationships
  • Withdrawal/emotional numbing
  • Struggling with school work
  • Nightmares, sleep disruptions

Ages 12-18

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Self-harm
  • School failure
  • Withdrawal
  • Involvement in violent or abusive dating relationships
  • Substance abuse

Children who witness or are victims of domestic abuse run a higher risk for a host of long-term physical health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. They also have a much higher risk of repeating abusive patterns as adults.

Exposure to domestic violence also has a negative impact on a child’s brain.

  • They tend to have a smaller hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. 
  • The parts of the brain that process memory, fear and other emotions react more strongly to any perceived threats.
  • Babies exposed to domestic violence while in the womb have 3 times the level of inflammation in their bodies as adults do – which greatly increases the likelihood of depression and poor health.

Taking Care of Jackson County Kids

Even one child impacted by domestic violence is too many. There are thousands of Jackson County kids in the middle of or at risk for living with domestic violence in their homes. That’s why the CSF continues to fund local organizations meeting the needs of these kids. We use that ⅛-cent sales tax you pay with every local purchase to support organizations like Newhouse, the Child Protection Center, and others. Without that critical funding, fewer kids will have the opportunity to get the support, shelter, and counseling they need to recover and lead healthier lives.


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