Negative Impacts on Children Who Witness Domestic Violence in Movies

In today’s world, we are all exposed to many negative things from stories on the news to violent movies and video games. All of these images can easily frighten and confuse young minds. Take movies, for example, many can contain scenes depicting harmful behaviour. Behaviours could include things like smoking, doing drugs and watching scenes that show domestic violence.


“Through television and movies, our society is a virtual captive of an entire world of violence” – Robert E. McAfee, MD.


Since many children today have access to the internet, there is an increased risk of them watching all kinds of violence. Even for many adults, these violent images can be quite distressing, so what kind of effect would it have on a child’s mental health? This could result in kids growing up in fear, anxiety and insecurity. Some kids who witness domestic violence in movies may even come to see this type of behaviour as normal or acceptable. All forms of media, whether deliberate or not, are promoting a culture of violence to the younger generation. The effect of domestic violence is even more pronounced for those children who watch violent movies and then witness domestic violence within their own families.

Negative impacts on children who watch violence

  • These violent movies could change a child’s way of looking at the world.
  • It may cause Depression
  • Higher levels of anger as well as anxiety. Many times, things that we watch are not forgotten the next day. The scenes and images remain in your mind, replaying over and over again.
  • Those who witness any form of violence can become more aggressive towards others.
  • A child can develop a lower level of compassion and empathy for others.

If exposure is over a longer period:

  • Kids could become desensitized to violence, it could become the way they think a problem should be solved.
  • The violence could become something the child eventually does to somebody else
  • Continuous exposure to any form of visual violence stimulates adrenaline, which could lead to a type of addiction to violence.


Continuous exposure to this type of violence can create a very scary world for a child, especially if they are very young. A young child who doesn’t understand the difference between a movie or fantasy and what is real. Younger children are also prone to imitate what they see around them, young minds are very impressionable. The child learns bad behaviour, movies with domestic violence teach them to be aggressive, violent and abusive. This could then harm the emotional and mental development of the child. Their brain is essentially being wired to fear and anxiety.

What can parents do?

Parents can help their kids, by just knowing where their children are and what they doing or watching. A parent, in most cases, is the first person who will recognize a problem. Are there any behavioural changes or other emotional issues, a parent should be there to provide support a child needs. The best way to deal with the issue of domestic violence and any violence in movies is to monitor what kids watch.


This might be easier in your own home, but what happens outside the home. Kids can visit friends, where they may be exposed to inappropriate viewing material. Teach your kids how to not give in to peer pressure when it comes to making certain decisions, like watching a violent movie.


Some more ways you, as a parent, can help:

  • Be aware, as mentioned above, be involved with your kids, know what they do and where they go. Spend time with them, especially when they are younger. In this way, you can lay down a strong foundation.
  • Communication: Ask your kids how they feel about a certain movie, programme or even situations and events in their lives. You can even help this along by expressing your own feelings.
  • Keep an eye on their behaviour when watching a movie. If you see any anxiety or odd behaviour, you may want to change the movie or programme being watched.
  • Always check the movie yourself before allowing the kids to watch it. Sometimes it is rated okay to watch, but by your standards, it may have some questionable scenes.
  • Try to limit screen time on all devices, that includes watching movies.
  • Don’t leave kids alone to watch movies or television. Even the news can have distressing images that can frighten younger viewers.

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