Inter-Parental Violence: The Pre-Schooler’s Perspective and the Educator’s Role

  • Linda Baker
  • Alison Cunningham


Early childhood educators are likely to encounter youngsters who experience problems at home impeding their abilities to learn and benefit from the program. One such group is children who live or have lived with adult domestic violence. Children yet to begin elementary school are over-represented among groups of young people known to live with inter-parental violence. A qualitative study using clinical interviews of young children was used to develop a model suggesting how key aspects of development among children 3–5 years of age can react to and be affected by inter-parental violence. Focus is on age-appropriate expression of emotions, salience of observations and conflicting messages, a child’s focus on outcome versus process, egocentricity and self-blame, learning of gender roles, and delay or regression in development of independence. Implications for the classroom are outlined, including providing a nurturing environment, supporting child adjustment, and helping caregivers. Special contingencies when families are in shelters are also discussed.


Inter-parental violence Maltreatment Children of abused women Coping Teaching strategies 



This work was supported by grants from the National Crime Prevention Strategy in Ottawa, Canada, the Ontario Women’s Directorate, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Children & Families in the Justice SystemLondonCanada

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