Domesticviolence is a phenomenon that is common in our society and hasoccurred throughout history. It is defined as a crime involvingpartners in the intimate relationship such as married couples orthose closest to each other that may result in injury or death of thevictim. Its invisibility makes it a unique crime because it occursmostly in homes and the victims usually fail to report these cases tothe law enforcement. It affects both the victim and the perpetratorand also costs the society in general. Domestic violence is asignificant issue because of its prevalence in our society, and manypeople do not understand the different forms of domestic violence.Most people understand domestic violence must involve inflictinginjury physically on the body of the victim. However, domesticviolence takes various forms including emotional, physical,financial, sexual, verbal and mental abuse (Fowler,Cantos & Miller, 2016).
Thispaper seeks to study domestic violence against women and the sociallearning theory, and its relations to domestic violence phenomenon.
Thesocial learning theory is one of the theories of the psychologicaltrait theory of criminology. The theory states that perpetrators ofviolence are not born with the inclination to participate in acts ofviolence. It states that the offenders learn to take part in violentacts by observation of other individual’s aggressive acts thatenable them to achieve their goals. Offenders learn aggressivebehaviors through three major sources including family interactions,environmental experiences, and mass media. Family interactionscontribute to violence acts whereby children who were raised in homesthat parents use aggressiveness when dealing with others tend toacquire and use similar tactics. Environmental experiences contributeto violent acts by perpetrators whereby individuals who live in areaswhere violence is common have a high likelihood of engaging inviolent acts. Mass media influences development of aggressive acts bydepicting incidences of violence and are often represented asacceptable particularly for heroes who are charged by the law fortheir actions (Fox,Nobles & Fisher, 2016).
Thesocial learning theory explains the domestic violence phenomenon bystating that its violence is a behavior that is learned and can befacilitated by factors such as family interactions, relationships,stress, money, environmental experiences or alcohol abuse amongothers. These factors have shown to predict domestic violence, forinstance, a perpetrator of domestic violence may have been batteredduring his childhood. The exposure of a child to domestic violenceincreases the risk of development of violent behavior in future thatmakes them become batterers as adults. Additionally, the sociallearning theory points out that environmental experience such asthose of the military personnel contributes to domestic violence.Studies have shown that the prevalence of violent acts to theirpartners or children among military personnel is attributed to theenvironment in which the military personnel are exposed to. Themilitary personnel in most instances are exposed to the environmentcharacterized by total obedience to the rules and constantaggression. Therefore, this causes the military personnel to form asubculture that involves having total control over their children,wife, and household. Moreover, the social learning indicates thatdomestic violence is depicted as acceptable in the society. Failureof the police to impose adequate punishment promptly may cause theoffender to feel their actions are justifiable thus continue toengage in domestic violence (Fox,Nobles & Fisher, 2016).
Severalresearch reviews have been conducted on domestic violence todetermine its causes, impacts, and solutions. Studies by Fowler,Cantos and Miller (2016)reveal that domestic violence has grown significantly over the pastrecent decades, and it has remained a major social and health problemaffecting women. The 2014 statistics provided by the World HealthOrganization has indicated that approximately 35% of women haveexperienced domestic violence in their lifetime. According to Cross,Mathews, Tonmyr, Scott and Ouimet (2012),women who are victims of domestic violence have been influenced bychildhood experiences such as sexual abuse. Additionally, women arevictims of domestic violence due to the lower likelihood of reportingthe incidence to the police which is contributed by various factorssuch as fear of stigmatization and low-self-esteem. Fowler,Cantos and Miller (2016) state thatthe most common causes of domestic violence against women includealcoholism, refusing to fulfill the conjugal rights, neglect ofchildren, failure of submissiveness, engaging in extra-maritalaffairs, infertility, among others.
Domesticviolence has a negative implication on children, the victims, and thesociety. The observation made by Anderson(2013)point out that exposure of children to domestic violence affectstheir behaviors leading to the development of conduct problems andaggressive behaviors. These aggressive behaviors and conduct maybecome problematic in the society. For instance, a child may engagein fights with others in schools and the community. Domestic violenceimpacts negatively on the victim whereby it can result to injury, lowself-esteem, psychological problems due to depression and may alsolead to death.
Thephenomenon of domestic violence can be addressed through combiningefforts between various agencies including the courts andcorrections, social services, and law enforcement agencies. Combinedefforts would contribute significantly towards minimizing the problemin society. In addition, stringent laws should be established toensure the offenders are held accountable thus help to address theproblem of domestic violence (Buzawa,Buzawa & Stark, 2015).
Thesocial learning theory indicates that family violence is contributedto by various situational and contextual factors. Examples ofsituational factors include financial challenges and substance abuse.Examples of contextual factors include stress, aggressivepersonality, and characteristics of a person or an individual as wellas existence of violence in the family. Most of these characteristicsare similar to those found in the review of the research on thephenomenon of domestic violence (Fox,Nobles & Fisher, 2016).
Moreover,the social learning theory points out that violence are learnedbehaviors whereby children who are exposed to family violence aremore likely to become offenders themselves. Similarly, the theoryindicates that women who become victims of domestic violence wereexposed to violence during their childhood. The review of theresearch as well reveals that exposure of children to domesticviolence results in the development of aggressive behaviors whichmeans it is a learned behavior. Moreover, the review of researchasserts that women are victims of domestic violence were alsoinfluenced by childhood experiences thus a learned behavior thatcauses them to tolerate these conducts and fail to report to thepolice (Fox,Nobles & Fisher, 2016).
Prosand Cons to the Social Learning Theory
Thesocial learning theory is important because it provides variousexplanations on the domestic violence phenomenon and how theseviolent behaviors are formed. Additionally, it offers reasons for thecausal factors and the implications of the domestic violence thatenable policy-makers and practitioners to provide appropriateresponses and interventions to address the problem. Theseexplanations foster the understanding of the problem of domesticviolence in the society and how they undermine the safety of thesociety. Understanding of the phenomenon of domestic violence helpsthe society to establish a set of responses that are effective inaddressing the problem. It assists in preventing conflictingresponses that could affect the efforts of the community to offerprotection to the victims of domestic violence and to take adequateaction on the offenders (Yount,Higgins, VanderEnde, Krause, Minh, Schuler & Anh, 2015).
Despitethe various benefits the social learning theory, it also has a numberof weakness. One of the identified weaknesses of the social learningtheory is that it fails to explain the reasons why children who watchviolent shows on television and never copy them. This is a weaknessbecause although most people are exposed to all types of violence inthe current society, the prevalence of violent acts have not beenobserved. This challenges the theory explanation that violentbehaviors are learned from watching or experience. However, it isbelieved that some children are naturally aggressive even when theyare not exposed to violent TV shows or environment (Yount,Higgins, VanderEnde, Krause, Minh, Schuler & Anh, 2015).
Domesticviolence has become a growing problem in the society today and hasmajor impacts on victims (women), children and the society. Thevictims of domestic violence can experience injury, psychologicalproblems or even cause death. Exposure of children to domesticviolence causes them to develop aggressive behaviors that have anenormous impact on the society. The social learning theory indicatesthat violent acts are learned especially during childhood thatfacilitates individuals to engage in aggressive acts against otherpeople. The domestic violence phenomenon can be addressed throughestablishing combined efforts and development of stringent laws.
Anderson,K. L. (2013). Why do we fail to ask “why” about gender andintimate partner violence? Journalof Marriage and family,75(2),314-318.
Buzawa,E. S., Buzawa, C. G., & Stark, E. D. (2015). Respondingto domestic violence: The integration of criminal justice and humanservices.Sage Publications.
Cross,T. P., Mathews, B., Tonmyr, L., Scott, D., & Ouimet, C. (2012).Child welfare policy and practice on children`s exposure to domesticviolence. Childabuse & neglect,36(3),210-216.
Fowler,D. R., Cantos, A. L., & Miller, S. A. (2016). Exposure toviolence, typology, and recidivism in a probation sample of domesticviolence perpetrators. ChildAbuse & Neglect,59,66-77.
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