Exposure to family and domestic violence is associated with lower attendance and higher suspension in school children

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Background: Exposure to family and domestic violence (FDV) in childhood can have a detrimental effect on children's health and social outcomes. However, research on the school outcomes of children exposed to FDV is scant. Objectives: To investigate the impact of FDV exposure on school attendance and suspension in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. Methods: A population-based retrospective cohort study of school children, in grade 1 to 10, born from 1993 to 2006 in Western Australia (n = 26,743) using linked administrative data. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to calculate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals to determine the association with school attendance and suspension outcomes for children exposed to FDV compared to non-exposed children. Results: Compared to non-exposed children, children exposed to FDV have an increase of poor school attendance: Aboriginal children adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.91, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.75–2.07, non-Aboriginal children aOR = 2.42, 95%CI: 2.12–2.75. FDV-exposed children also have an increased risk of school suspension: Aboriginal children aOR = 1.60, 95%CI: 1.47–1.74, non-Aboriginal children aOR = 2.68, 95%CI: 2.35–3.05, compared to non-exposed counterparts. Conclusion: Exposure to FDV is associated with an increased odds of poor school attendance and school suspension. Evidence-based and innovative strategies are needed to support children who are exposed to FDV. This involves responding in ways that does not cause further trauma to children; a restorative and trauma-informed approach is vital.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105594
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


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