Australian Institute of Criminology

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Cycle of violence

Media Release

09 April 2001

Witnessing parental domestic violence has emerged as the strongest predictor of acts of violence in young people's own intimate relationships.

This is one of the key findings from a paper released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology. The paper summarises the findings of a major report on young people and domestic violence originally funded by Partnerships against Domestic Violence. The report was produced by the Crime Research Centre at the University of Western Australia and Donovan Research.

The paper, Young Australians and Domestic Violence by David Indermaur also reports that the rate of witnessing domestic violence varied considerably depending on the nature of the household living arrangements. For example, the witnessing of male to female parental violence ranged from 14 per cent for those young people living with both parents to 41 per cent for those living with 'mum and her partner'.

In releasing the paper, Dr Adam Graycar, AIC Director, stated that this is the first Australian data that has been published on young people's experience of and attitudes to violence. "It reveals important differences amongst young people in terms of their attitudes to violence. It shows us that priority should be given to preventative efforts in homes where there is evidence of a serious and sustained history of domestic violence and where children are exposed to the violence", said Dr Graycar.

The findings are from a survey of 5,000 Australians aged between 12 and 20 years of age. About a quarter (23 per cent) of those surveyed reported at least one act that could be described as physical domestic violence against their mothers/stepmothers.