Exposure to violence has a significant impact

Children can be impacted by violence and abuse, even if they are not the direct victim or witness of the violence; hearing abuse, seeing injured parents, seeing broken objects, feeling the after effects of abuse on their parents and the family – these can all impact the child just as much as directly witnessing the violence itself.

Exposure to violence and abuse can have emotional, behavioral, social, and psychological consequences for the child. The following is far from a complete list.


  • Guilt for the violence itself
  • Guilt for not stopping the violence
  • Anticipating further harm
  • Constant fear, worrying, and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Passive or withdrawn
  • Frequently or inappropriately expressing anger
  • Difficulty expressing other emotions
  • Low self-esteem
  • Shame


  • Hyperactivity or difficulty focusing
  • Problems with learning
  • Aggressive or abusive behavior
  • Issues at school
  • Black-and-white thinking
  • Poor impulse control
  • Violent play with toys


  • Difficulty in relationships
  • Relationships that frequently end poorly
  • Develops unhealthy relationships
  • Runs away from home or avoids being at home
  • Isolation from friends and family


  • Generalized anxiety
  • Flashbacks
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Expressing suicidality
  • Nightmares or night terrors
  • Chronic physical illnesses
  • Being increasingly lethargic
  • High risk activities

Again, this is not a complete list of the potential consequences of exposure to violence. The items listed here may not be proof that abuse or violence is occurring. Your concern should match how frequent or extreme any behaviors are.

Reporting abuse is your legal obligation

When you suspect abuse or violence that puts a child in danger, you have a legal obligation to report it. In New Brunswick, Child Protection Services investigates every reported case of abuse or suspected abuse. There are eight regional Offices of the Department of Social Development where abuse can be reported.

How to report suspected abuse