Drugs and Family Violence

Drugs and Family Violence

Final Research Paper

GEN 499


Thesis statement

The issue of domestic violence and drug abuse has been rampant in our society, and it should be dealt with, if we are to get the most out of our children. Children, especially at an early age should be protected from families, that are domestically violent, and parents that abuse drugs. They should also be kept away from drugs, because of what drugs can do to them. They should also be given the liberty to choose what they want, but this liberty should be moderated, because there can be easily be deluded into taking drugs.

Growing up in a violent home is a factor that leads to a student having an unstable mind and hampers their concentration in class. Their social life might as well be affected as they will tend to keep away from others for fear of stigmatization. Drug abuse by pregnant women greatly affects kids at an early stage, thereby exhibiting withdrawal symptoms and other long term effects like attention problems and impulsivity, at an early stage al through to adulthood. Children who abuse drugs at an early age should be helped out of them, for their well being. Violent homes also cause a lot of harmful effects to the children, ranging from behavioral defects, to emotional trauma and sociological issues. These subtle yet serious effects are the underlying factors to consider when a parent decides on a course of action to take, like raising a hand on their spouse, especially in front of the children.

Indeed, while drugs some drugs e.g. tobacco are beneficial in some sense, parents can sacrifice the short term fun for the sake of their kids’ development, especially at an early stage. Albeit beneficial, they are always addictive, and the addictive nature of these drugs can as well be as harmful as the inherent dangers that wrapped in these drugs.

Active citizenship is a very important tool in making sure that these issues are taken care of, and reduced significantly. This is because it only takes among many things the willpower to do it, and it since the members of a society are the custodians of morality in that particular society, then there certainly with the willpower these rising trends of drug abuse and domestic violence can take a downward turn. It is not hard to do away with these problems, because some interesting research has shown that the two issues are very much interrelated, therefore active citizenship against one vice will be an indirect vice against the other.

It’s therefore every child’s right to grow up in a safe environment, free from any harm, with a feeling of safety to them and the ones they love. Domestic violence and homes with drug abusing parents shatters a child’s right of safety and security in the world. Children need all that to stop, for their own good.

A Literature Review

The literature use in this research was conducted by use of online searches by the use of search engines, as well as from the library books. The literature was included based on the author’s credentials and the works they have done that relate to the topics of drug abuse and family violence. Hey had to be significant and related to children somehow, because that’s my main focus.

Children of substance-abusing parents

Straussner, (2011) is very articulate on the issue of children who live with parents who abuse drugs. According to him, these children have to put up with a lot of discomforts at their home, and he offers valuable information on what they exactly have to undergo on a daily basis at home, and its consequent effect that extends to affecting their wellbeing even at school. The adverse effects of pre-natal drug abuse on the children, which affect them through their adulthood, are just so many. It is even dangerous to them, since it increases the risk of them developing a myriad of health related complications such as cardiovascular and certain cancers, as well as other pregnancy related complications (Straussner, 2011). The contributors afterwards offer solutions to these problems. They offer options for programmatic interventions and treatment to help these children, thus filling a gap that is important in this research. Reasons why parents abuse drugs should keenly be examined; since it is through this that a solution will be found (Straussner, 2011). The author writes this book in the proper context of a culture and a society that abuses drugs more than ever before, and his use of bias is very much useful. By giving the reasons why parents use drugs, the author eliminates any use of bias, since he expresses concerns to both parties, the children and their parents who are addicted to drugs.

Theories, assessment, and intervention of family violence

When examining this topic in the research, the book “Social work and family violence: Theories, assessment, and intervention.” by McClennen (2010) is particularly insightful, because it focuses on an in depth analysis of family violence in the context of the parents being violent to each other and to the children themselves. Physical abuse, being a form of family violence, is the intentional incident of inflicting physical injuries through various ways, as well as emotional pain (McClennen 2010). To help us better understand the controversies around family violence and their causes, McClennen (2010) introduces us to some of the theories e.g. object relations theory, the attachment theory and many others. The correlations and consequences of the violence to their causes is keenly examined, so that its effects on children are determined. This book as well interrogates the family violence in different types, which includes spousal, elder and child abuse/maltreatment, with the latter being my main focus, albeit the others are useful as well, in this research. The broader environmental and historical forces that contribute to violence in different communities are also looked at in perspective. All this information and cases in this book are important is painting the picture for us, regarding the reality of family violence in America, and giving suggestions, based on the causes given, on how to combat it. The thing about this source is that at the end, there are pragmatic solutions and preventive measures to help with family violence in all levels. One of the suggestions McClennen (2010) gives is active citizenship, perhaps the most important one in her view.

Domestic violence and parental substance misuse

More often than not, the issue of substance abuse is attributable to domestic violence, and the other way around. The book “Child protection, domestic violence and parental substance misuse family experiences and effective practice” draws a wide range of apparent evidence that shows the relationship between substance abuse and domestic violence as well as their effect on children. It shows the vulnerability of children in terms of the extent to which parental drug abuse and domestic violence impact on the health and development of children’s. These two factors together affect the parents’ capacity to carry out and undertake key parenting roles and tasks, and to influence the wider family’s response as well as that of the community (Cleaver, 2007). This source is very useful mainly because of the interconnection it draws between family violence and drug abuse in terms of the same effects and the fact that one leads to another. Cleaver (2007) also includes recommendations where the parents need to voice out their concerns and creating an environment that will allow them (parents) to explain what help they think they need in order to support their families in such situations. The society needs to sympathize with those in such situations, and the authorities have an obligation in joint protocols and procedures that will make alienate this problem (Cleaver, 2007). This source is very relevant to this study, as it depicts the real picture of families and their struggle with drug abuse and domestic violence.

Drug Abuse

Drug abuse, also known as chemical/substance abuse, is a behavioral disorder of which a person uses substance in a destructive pattern, which ultimately leads to distress or problems. Drug addiction on the other hand, is a disorder that is exhibited by the pattern of drug abuse that causes major problems that involves withdrawal or tolerance to the substance, and other problems that the use of these drugs can cause to the user, either socially or otherwise. It is a condition where the user gets so used to it, such that he/she experiences regular abnormalities attributable to the drugs.

Drug abuse in the United States and the world is a menace that has been there for a long time, and seems to be on the rise each day. We live in a time where people abuse drugs more than ever before, and research shows that the U.S has the highest rate of drug abusers in the world. Americans are inclined to abuse drugs more because, among other reasons, it is easily accessible. Millions of Americans abuse drugs as 21.6 million persons as at 2013 were dependent on drugs and alcoholism. This is a population from as young as 12 years old and above.

According to the National Institute on drug abuse, Marijuana is the illicit drug that is widely abused by America, followed by pain relievers and then cocaine. 4.2 million People, of the 6.9 million aged 12 who were classified with drug abuse or dependence use marijuana representing 61.4% of the persons that abuse drugs. Cocaine is closely followed by other drugs such as heroin, which have the same effects on the psychological as well as the social wellbeing of an individual.

Effects of drug abuse

Drug abuse is not doing America any good, as it was reported that a substantive percentage of Americans who are homeless are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Further, in the federal prisons, 60% of adult inmates are there because of drug related crimes, thus the rising number of criminal activities can well be associated with drug and substance abused. In the workplace, it was found out that drug addicts were more likely to miss work two or more days in a month. Generally, the United States incurs costs amounting to hundreds of billions annually, which cater for drug related crimes, increased healthcare costs, and decreased productivity in the industries.

Drugs’ effect on Children

When it comes to its effects on children, we find that they are hard hit victims, owing to their innocence. Research has shown that in the U.S, over 19 million children-which represents one in four – lives with parents who abuse drugs (Straussner, 2011). The effect I will be discussing is twofold, in that there are minors who are addicted to drugs, including the hard ones, as a video on YouTube by (Punjabi) shows, and the other effects as a result of the children living with substance abusing parents, including pre-nataly. To further examining the latter, children who were exposed to drugs such as cocaine before birth are more likely to require special education; because they somehow induced the drugs while in the womb.

As Straussner (2011) notes, children who are subject to parents who abuse drugs are at a very high risk of a multitude of short term as well as long term problems, in their general development. Research has indicated that they might become the next generation of persons who are addicted and abuse drugs, thereby completing and making it a cycle.

He further says that children’s growth is greatly hampered majorly because most of the parents who abuse drugs are unable to fulfill their parental responsibilities and roles to their children. Ultimately, the child will feel that there is a void and an existing vacuum, and they might feel compelled to fill the vacuum. When a child takes up the role of a parent, this means that his development will lack, because he won’t have the time to do what he is supposed to do as a child.

While kids might join their drug abusing parents in self-blame for the all the family’s turmoil, they also retain very deep resentment to their parent(s), because of the perceived unwillingness to resolve their problem amicably, as an expression of their love to the children. As a result, it’s not surprising that these children who are constantly exposed to family violence are more likely to experience emotional problems such as having a low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and other relational problems. This is attributed to them feeling unimportant and rejected because they are often left at home alone for extremely long hours and when their parents are around, they are probably high thereby unable to give them the attention they deserve.

The prenatal use of drugs and alcohol is equally dangerous to children after birth, perhaps even more dangerous because of the fact that the drugs affect the infant directly. The statistics are alarming also, since a survey conducted showed that 19% of pregnant women who knew of their pregnancy were using alcohol. Alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances during pregnancy, and its effects on fetal development and infant outcomes have been well studied.

Drug abuse during pregnancy also contributes to cognition problems which are associated to behavioral problems. Nicotine and Carbon monoxide from tobacco interferes with the supply of oxygen to the fetus. The prenatal effects of smoking include low birth Weight and slowed fetal growth, all which contribute to developmental delay. It has been proven that during pregnancy, smoking more than one pack of cigarette a day almost doubles the probability of the child becoming a tobacco addict when the child starts smoking in future. Some drugs are also associated with lower intellectual capabilities among kids whose mothers abused the drugs while pregnant (Straussner, 2011). Other physical health defects, including, respiratory illnesses e.g. bronchitis, respiratory infections and asthma, are also some of the effects of alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy.

Reasons why children use drugs

It is very likely that teenagers and children with disorders like the Oppositional Defiant Disorders and Conduct Disorders use drugs, and very often are addicted to them. This is because they are abusing the drugs as a means of confronting their social/situational fears. (Pagliaro & Pagliaro, 2012) Some might have stress that is post-traumatic, which is related to an incident that dented their emotions early in life, like sexual abuse. When these kids remember some of this incidences, they take these drugs for instant gratification, albeit momentarily. When teens especially feel very bad about themselves, for some reason or they feel that they don’t fit in among their friends, they are likely to find a group of friends who are like-minded, and who use drugs. Loneliness and peer pressure is what others may like to call it, and it is the number one reason that kids take drugs. The uncertainty of a kid to whether resist peer pressure and how to resist it increases by far the chances of drug and substance abuse in kids.

There are other reasons why a kid might use drugs, which include issues of misinformation. Closely relate to peer pressure, this is the most avoidable reason, because it has something to with friends of certain kids claiming expertise in recreation and fun. According to Pagliaro & Pagliaro (2012), they mislead others that the effects of taking drugs are minimal, and the gratification is maximum. Other kids might take drugs because of lack of confidence, and they think that they’ll be confident while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. To others, it is mere rebellion that they choose to engage in different drugs, based on the personality.

Domestic violence is a form of violence that is expressed by partner/partners of an intimate relationship against the other partner/partners. Governmental as well as non-governmental agencies consider domestic violence as a social problem and by various legislations like the Violence against Women Acts, the government has tried to contain the situation and stem this tide. Tjaden et al (2000) report that women are the most casualties in domestic violence, with over 40 Million women having experienced some sort of violence in their life. The issue however affects not only women, as men an also fall into violent partners’ hands, although children are a more affected lot that the men. Because of their innocence and the fact that they are subject to their parents’ decisions; this increases their susceptibility to family violence. It is reported that Up to 10-20% of children in the U.S witness the abuse of a parent annually (Tjaden et al, 2000). As a result, this percentage is very much likely to experience abuse or neglect and less likely to perform well in school. Also, because they are subjected to incidences of emotional problems, they are likely to experience behavioral problems, and might tolerate violence or even be violent themselves to their partners in adulthood. In this research paper, I will be focusing on how these issues affect children, either directly or indirectly, and this seems to be a real problem when it comes to children’s psychology. This is because when we think of domestic violence, the issue of parenting comes into play, where the quality of parenting is compromised in families with constant violence. A large part of the domestic violence problem is the problem of Victimization because of violent assault, where an estimate of 5 million people both men and women are physically assaulted annually, with 22% of women and 7% of men reportedly have been assaulted physically by a spouse, whether current or former, or a cohabiting partner (boyfriend or girlfriend), according to a 2000 Report by the U.S. Department of Justice.

There has been very shocking statistics that explain the reality, where studies have shown that 10 million children worldwide witness some sort of domestic violence every year. Closer home, every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted/beaten, in the US. Around the globe, at least 1 in every 3 women has already been assaulted, coerced into having sex or abused in her lifetime. It is noted that family violence in some instances is cultural, since there are cultures that for some reason tolerate family violence (Morrison & Hines, 2004). They also reported that some ethnic groups have higher family violence rates than others.

The effects of Domestic violence to children

Domestic violence has a lot of negative effects in the society, as perhaps one of the biggest consequences of tolerating this kind of violence is that it remains a vicious cycle. This is because studies have suggested that as children, men who have witnessed domestic violence in their homes are twice more likely to themselves abuse their wives than boys who grew up in nonviolent homes. This is one disturbing statistics, that proves that children are the greatest victims, albeit indirectly, of domestic violence.

Studies have indicated that 3 to 4 million children between the ages of 3-17 are at a high risk of being exposed to a form of domestic violence every year. These are children that are exposed to a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems in their childhood as well as their adulthood. These are children who see the actual incidents of domestic violence including sexual/and or physical abuse. They hear their parents threatening each other or fighting from another room. Witnessing may also involve observing and noticing the aftermath of such physical abuse, where they see bruises, torn clothing, tears, blood etc. also, this exposure cay be in the form of the children being aware of the tension that reigns the home in certain occasions, e.g. their mom’s fear when the father’s car pulls into their driveway.

Small children and Infants who witness domestic violence in their homes more often experience a lot of emotional stress it can harm their brains’ development and impair their sensory and cognitive growth (Osofsky & Joy1999). Developmental delays in speech, cognitive or motor skills and behavior changes such as sleep problems, immature behavior, excessive irritability etc are also highly likely. During the early ages of a child, his/her brain is being wired to for the later years of physical as well as emotional functioning. This development is being threatened by the child’s exposure to violence that happens at home.

Bancroft & Silverman (2002), their book “The batterer as parent” notes that boys who are exposed to domestic violence in their childhood tend to be more aggressive and are the most bullies at school when they are with their peers. An Australian study reported that up to 40% of consistently violent teenagers are victims or have been exposed to domestic violence. They also develop a tendency of having their way around through coercion, manipulation, and by pressurizing their peers and situations.

Additionally, Children who witness battering in their families develop fear and anxiety in their life. They tend to be always on guard, every time watching and waiting for what may happen next. They are uncertain of what may trigger the next abuse, and as a result they lack a feeling of safety. They live with a sense of worry because of their mother, their siblings and even themselves.

As they grow, these children experience problems even at school. Children at the primary school going age may have a hard time with their school work, and often show poor concentration in class. They tend not to do as well in school. According to James (1994), studies indicate that 40% of these children had lower abilities to read that children who were raised in nonviolent homes.

Very often, children that grow up in these kinds of homes are expected to keep the issue as a family secret, and are not even allowed to talk to each other about it. From the outside, they look fine to the world outside, but the truth s that they are in terrible pain within. This, according to studies, damages the social development of the children. They feel isolated socially, and are unable to make friends easily because of social discomfort or uncertainty over what is acceptable within the society (James, 1994).

These poor children feel isolated and very vulnerable. They lack the affection, attention and approval they need for their age. Their mum, who is struggling to survive, is rarely present for them, and they are too afraid of their father, who is too preoccupied with proving to be the man of the house. These children become abandoned not only physically, but also psychologically and emotionally.

They grow up with personality and other behavioral defects, as explained by Felitti et al (1998), these kids are at a high risk of engaging in criminal behavior, substance abuse and early pregnancies in future. Other early problems include depression, psychosomatic illnesses and bed-wetting, including others.

Children from abusive homes can look fine to the outside world, but inside they are in terrible pain. There are subjected to crazy and chaotic families. They tend to blame themselves for everything, and particularly for the abuse, thinking that they could have done something to prevent the fight, or maybe they shouldn’t have done/said something. This is the reason every child needs to grow up in a safe environment, free from any harm. They need to feel that their loved ones are as well protected. A feeling of safety and security is actually a child’s basic right, and for the sake of the children, domestic violence needs to stop.

How do we then protect the children from all these?

Grossman et al., (1997) suggests that children must hear, and it must be re-affirmed to them that domestic violence and child abuse is wrong. This, according to them, is a long term plan to reduce these cases, because it is a cycle where the children who grow up in these families are likely to take up the vices. In order for them to grow up with a positive mentality towards life, people in the society have to own up and provide alternative figures for the children to look up to, because they will have a skewed view of life when they look up to their parents who abuse drugs and are violent in their homes. There are countries that have put in place programs that give lessons to the young people on how to avoid drugs and violence in their personal relationships.

The general public can improve their responses to children who are exposed to domestic violence into a more holistic and comprehensive response, that as well puts into consideration the range needs of these vulnerable children (Wolfe et al., 1999). Children must have places in mind that they consider a safe haven, in case they are distressed in their homes. The extended family members as well as the family friends and neighbors should be safe and supportive enough for the children to run to. Active citizenship also entails remaining vigil and reporting any cases of drug abuse in children and children who live with abusive parents. The government has set up offices all over that people can report to, but better still there are police stations everywhere, where you can report anything.


Indeed children are a treasure to us and we must take care of them. It is our responsibility as a society, whether we have children or not, to protect these children from such atrocities. It is evident that drugs are harmful to everyone, and more specifically to children, as well as violent families. For the sake of children’s development, they should be kept away from these issues, because of the adverse effects it has in their wellbeing. Active citizenship is a very instrumental tool of making sure that the society becomes a better place for the children to live in, free from drug abuse and violent families.


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