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Increasing attainment and school enrolment form key objectives amongst the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet the risk of academic under-achievement persists in the backdrop of economic adversity where incidence of domestic violence is rampant. This article explores the socio-emotive echoes of violence, the very implications on children’s emotional development, as these risk distorting young survivors’ incentive to invest effort towards formal schooling. The buffering effects of individual self-efficacy, confidence in own ability, alongside maternal education in the face of early childhood exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV), motivate holistic intervention to support both caregiver and child as they seek refuge. In the long run signs of deepening divergence are traced in young survivors’ language achievements as children’s ability to form career aspirations is undermined, derailing them from potential academic pathways. Ultimately, the indirect implications on inequality are explored through two country-level case studies on youths’ earnings at age 22. Exposure to IPV in Ethiopia was linked to negative estimated returns to pursuing secondary education, making it ‘unprofitable’ for young survivors to forgo work, as reflected in the stark attainment gap. Notwithstanding, chronic physical abuse was linked with the lowest estimated earnings but highest returns to schooling in the Andhra Pradesh state of India, reflecting scope for early intervention so as to pre-empt the negative self-enforcing effects of trauma.
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