Domestic violence leads to more child deaths and intensive care unit admissions in Queensland than accidents, and in infants they are most often head and brain injuries, according to new child safety research.
Following the launch of the government’s $100 million domestic violence policy, Professor Justin Kenardy from the University of Queensland is raising awareness that children are victims of domestic violence too.
Prof Kenardy says 2012 research from Queensland’s trauma registry shows infants younger than one experience assaults at a rate similar to adolescents, but their outcomes are three times as severe.
“As well as loss of life, we are also talking about psychosocial problems, loss of quality of life, disability in survivors, and an enormous economic burden,” says Prof Kenardy.
“It’s encouraging the federal government has committed new funding to addressing domestic violence, but I encourage them to keep child victims at the forefront of their programs and policies.”
Some high-profile domestic violence cases in south-east Queensland have drawn particular attention to the issue of domestic violence recently, but Professor Kenardy says child assault happens everywhere and in all socio-economic environments.
“Rates of assault-related injury for indigenous children are highest outside major urban areas,” he says.
“Indigenous female children have the highest rate of assault-related injury: 15 times higher than non-indigenous females.
Prof Kenardy says research demonstrates that almost 64% of assaults on children younger than 12 happened at home; assaults to the head and brain were the most frequent injuries seen in infants.
Prof Kenardy worked on the 2012 study with fellow Queensland researchers Dr Fumiko Irie, Jacelle Lang, Dr Melissa Kaltner and Dr Robyn Le Brocque. It was published in the journal Injury.