Child Abuse and Exposure to Domestic Violence - Criminal Statutes

This map summarizes state criminal statutes that enhance the penalty for a crime of domestic violence when the crime was witnessed by a child (including listing such as an aggravating factor in sentencing) or define a separate crime of domestic violence that specifically includes child witnessing. No civil statutes are included, nor are criminal statutes defining child abuse itself.

While these statutes are intended to hold an abuser fully accountable, they are problematic because domestic violence survivors are often targeted. This unfairly blames the survivor for the abuser's actions and deprives children of the presence of a protective, caring adult, which research shows is the single biggest factor in a child's resilience.

Click here to download a complete text table with each state's provisions.

“DV child presence enhancement” indicates that the criminal law enhances the penalty for domestic violence when committed in the presence of a child, or that such is an aggravating factor for the purpose of sentencing. Differences among such statutes (e.g. definition of “presence” or any requisite relationship between offender and child) are not tracked.

  • White: No Relevant Criminal Statutes/Provisions
  • Grey: Sentence Enhancement or Consideration for Child Presence
  • Yellow: Child Presence as Criminal Offense
  • Purple: Victim Services for Children


Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody.


1-800-52-PEACE or 1-800-527-3223
Email :


Sign up to receive our email newsletter which includes a guest blog, free resources, and upcoming events and training opportunities.

Professional Helpline