Children and youth are highly resilient. The elements that help Latin@ children and youth cope already exist in their surroundings, families and culture. We can build resilience in children and youth by recognizing their most positive and strongest traits (artistic ability, writing & presenting skills, leadership capabilities, eagerness to serve others, etc.) and providing an opportunity to use them for themselves, their families and communities.
- 5 million children ages 0-17 are estimated to live in homes where they witness DV in the United States.¹
- Children living in homes affected by DV are at high risk for both future perpetration and victimization—that is, they are more likely to commit acts of DV or experience maltreatment from future partners.¹
- Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next.²
- There is evidence that a child’s mothers’ mental health, positive parenting, and temperament all relate to wellness in children with ongoing or past family histories of DV.¹
¹Latin@ Youth Witnesses of Domestic Violence: A Factsheet from the National Latin@ Research Center on Family and Social Change (link)
²Break the Cycle. (2006). Startling Statistics.
Factors that Impact Latin@ Children
Domestic violence can affect Latin@ children differently in these ways:
- Acculturation Levels – Each member of the family may be at a different place in the acculturation process, so they may have difficulty understanding one another. Click here to download our Acculturation Continuum (PDF).
- Language Barriers – Services are frequently only provided in English. As a result, children are often asked to translate for police officers, advocates, teachers and other professionals. Click here to learn why children should never be asked to translate for parents experiencing domestic violence.
- Immigration Status –Documentation status sometimes determines whether a parent will report or seek help for themselves and their children.
What is Teen Dating Violence?
How does dating violence affect Latin@ youth?
- Psychosomatic issues, e.g., stomachaches, ulcers, headaches
- Subtle reactions: loss of appetite, overeating, sleep difficulties, nail biting or stuttering
- Low self-esteem and feelings of failure
- Anger: aggression, hostility or destructiveness
- Disruptive behavior or violence toward peers
- Wearing high-necked or long-sleeved clothing in warm weather
- Juvenile delinquency, e.g., truancy, vandalism, drinking or drug abuse
Immigrant youth may experience different barriers in their lives that exacerbate the stress of living with dating violence.
- Undocumented youth experience many fears. Calling the police, telling a school counselor or parents might open up an investigation that could ultimately lead to the deportation of the boyfriend/girlfriend.
- When someone is in the midst of a crisis, it is common to go back to one’s first language or switch between languages. Youth who do so cannot utilize resources or confide in counselors or teachers who speak only English. Language accessibility is important for youth, too.