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Witnessing violence—aggression and anxiety in young children

Kathleen Moss

This article calls attention yet again to the importance of the context in which children grow up. It focuses on children who were aged 4 to 7 in 1994, and examines levels of anxiety and aggression in relation to their exposure to violence in the home. The evidence that emerges of the short- and longer-term effects on their behaviour and emotions is compelling.


  • One in twelve children aged 4 to 7 in 1998/99 had witnessed violence at home.

  • Children who had seen violent behaviour were more likely than those who had not to be overtly aggressive.

  • Levels of physical aggression remained high two and four years later for both sexes, and anxiety was high two years later for boys.

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