Pediatricians can make an enormous difference in identifying family violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Wednesday, Oct. 9, is Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day.

In the United States, more than 18 million children have been exposed to family violence. That’s one in four children who experience violence between their parents or caregivers.

Growing up in a violent home can be a terrifying and traumatic experience for child. It can impede their growth, early brain development and future health.

A study found that children of mothers who disclosed intimate partner violence are less likely to have five well-child visits within the first year of life and less likely to be fully immunized at age 2.

Other research has shown that the nonabusing parent is often the strongest protective factor in the lives of children exposed to domestic violence. When properly identified and addressed, the effects of violence on children can largely be mitigated, and can have a life-changing impact.

Well-baby and well-child visits provide an opportunity for clinicians and caregivers to partner to promote wellness and prevent illness and injury. It is this trusted relationship that places pediatric healthcare providers in a unique position to identify family violence in the primary care setting.

Simply by educating families about the impact family violence on their child’s health, and providing information and referrals, pediatricians can make an enormous difference for families.

Be the change.

Tamara M. Grigsby, M.D.
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics Provisional
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital