U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Children Exposed to Violence: Tips for Domestic Violence and Homeless Shelters

NCJ Number
Date Published
4 pages
After explaining why parents and their children living in domestic-violence or homeless shelters are more likely to have been exposed to violence and other traumatic stressors, warning signs for such trauma are outlined for various age groups of children and youth, followed by recommendations for what shelter staff can do to better serve these traumatized children.
Parents and their children who come to domestic-violence shelters do so because the violence in their home has reached an unbearable or even dangerous stage. Parents and/or children coming to a homeless shelter have also likely undergone stressful circumstances that may include exposure to violence. Some of the warning signs that such trauma may have been experienced by a child or youth are outlined for the following age groups: children 5 years old and younger, children 6-12 years old, and teens 13-18 years old. Seven recommendations are presented to guide shelter staff in identifying and serving children and youth in their care who may have been exposed to violence. First, identify children who have been exposed to violence as evidenced by warning signs. Second, integrate into agency protocols strategies that address exposure to violence. Third, link the families of these children and youth to community-based services. Fourth, include evidence-based strategies in parent education activities. Fifth, refer children to evidence-based mental health interventions. Sixth, provide mental health support for shelter staff. Seventh, respond to crises as they occur. 6 resource listings

Date Published: January 1, 2011