Building Protective Factors

Domestic violence varies in form, but consistently carries an undercurrent of abuse, control and fear. Even if violence isn’t physically directed at a child, it takes its toll.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in homes where intimate partner violence occurs, a majority of children witness these domestic assaults and 45%-60% also experience abuse. It’s also worth noting that adults affected by domestic violence are oftentimes unable to fully engage in caregiving. The child is then left to manage his or her own emotional and physical needs, while consumed by the fear and stress of an unsafe environment. 

These children are victims, whether they have been directly abused or not. In the short term, they navigate sadness and anxiety. In the long term, they experience a higher incidence of chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance use.

While children impacted by domestic violence are at risk for a variety of negative outcomes, they are not without hope! The Child Welfare Information Gateway explains that protective factors can mitigate risks and improve a child’s future health and well-being. Building protective factors for children exposed to domestic violence develops resilience. Five notable protective factors are:

  1. Self regulation skills
  2. Problem solving skills
  3. Parenting competencies
  4. Caregiver well-being
  5. Positive school environment    

These five factors are encouraging to note because they are actionable! In Henrico County, we are fortunate to have a team of judges in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court who are service-oriented. In partnership with Henrico Department of Social Services and upon recommendations by Henrico CASA and other service providers, they proactively refer families to community resources to get the support they need. Together, our local child welfare system works to support children and caregivers to promote growth in these five protective factors.

Interested in learning more about how CASA volunteers partner with the Henrico court system? Explore our advocate page here.