Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

NIJ's field research focuses on the co-occurrence of child abuse and intimate partner violence and whether children who are physically and sexually abused often turn toward criminal activity as adults. On this page:

How Prevalent is Co-occurrence?

Child maltreatment and domestic violence often co-occur. The National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW) is a nationally recognized probability study of more than 5,000 children ages 0 to 14 who have been abused or maltreated. An NIJ-funded supplemental survey to NSCAW, called the Family Violence Services Study (FVSS), examined the services provided to children and families who face abuse and maltreatment. The FVSS found the following:

  • Of families involved in child welfare investigations for child maltreatment, 29 percent had abused children within the past year. Approximately 45 percent of children in these families had experienced maltreatment over the course of their lifetime.
  • Only 15 percent of child abuse cases reported by mothers were identified by child welfare staff.
  • Child welfare and domestic violence organizations have few tools available to assess the co-occurrence of domestic violence and child maltreatment and have difficulty coordinating to identify best practices for service.

In response to the low rates of service provision, FVSS researchers developed 19 recommendations for helping child welfare agencies assess child maltreatment cases and coordinate response.[1]

Evaluating a Program to Reduce Child Maltreatment and Intimate Partner Violence

In 1999, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges published Effective Intervention in Domestic Violence and Child Maltreatment Cases: Guidelines for Policy and Practice, more commonly known as "the Greenbook" because of its green cover. A roadmap for collaboration, the Greenbook presents guidelines designed to "eliminate or decrease the risks that battered mothers, caseworkers, and judges must take on behalf of children".[2]

NIJ and three agencies under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted an evaluation of a 5-year demonstration project called the Greenbook Initiative. The Greenbook Initiative provides a framework for helping families that are experiencing both child maltreatment and domestic or intimate partner violence. A collaborative approach among child welfare agencies, courts, and other parties can enhance family safety and well-being by responding to the entire family rather than an isolated victim.[3]

At six demonstration sites, child welfare agencies, domestic violence service providers and dependency courts worked together to implement guidelines found in the Greenbook. The demonstration sites agreed to establish collaborative structures and develop policies and procedures to enhance the safety and well-being of battered women and their children. The 5-year evaluation showed that collaboration and cross-training between child welfare agencies, domestic violence service providers and dependency courts resulted in some positive changes in practice, collaboration and relationship building. The extent and types of changes varied across the sites and sustaining new practices proved difficult.       

For m​​​​​​ore about NIJ's research on domestic violence and children, see page 130 of NIJ's Compendium of Research on Violence Against Women​.


[1] Kelleher, K., W. Gardner, J. Coben, R. Barth, J. Edleson, and A. Hazen. "Co-Occurring Intimate Partner Violence and Child Maltreatment: Local Policies/Practices and Relationships to Child Placement, Family Services and Residence." Final report to the National Institute of Justice, March 2006, NCJ 213503.

[2] Greenbook Initiative Web site. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges,, (accessed September 22, 2008).

[3] Caliber Associates. "The Greenbook Demonstration Initiative: Interim Evaluation Report." Final report to the National Institute of Justice. December 2004, NCJ 209733.

Date Modified: March 11, 2011