Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Does Violence Impact Children

In a recent report released by the National Survey of Children's Exposure to violence, the most comprehensive Nationwide survey of the incidence and prevalence of a child's exposure to violence,the conclusion was stated that 60% of our children are exposed to violence daily. This can be either directly or indirectly. Nearly one half of the children surveyed had been assaulted in the past year, at least once.1 in 6 were victims of sexual victimization. The recent reports of a teen girl who was attacked and gang raped after her homecoming dance while 20 plus witnesses stood by and did nothing, brings up a dramatic question. Why did no one intervene?
Is this the normal our kids expect to see? Children in the US are more likely to be exposed to crime than are adults.Each year millions of children are exposed to violent crimes in their homes, schools, communities as both victims and as witnesses. Children can show remarkable resilience but most often children who are exposed to violence undergo lasting physical, mental and emotional harm. They suffer from difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, depression and anxiety. They also develope conduct problems. They are more prone to dating violence which we have seen on the rise in San Antonio. The most lasting effect of violence in a child is the effect upon forming lasting relationships through partnering, which will continue the cycle of violence into the next gerentaion.
So what can we do? Violence is all around us, everywhere you look. We are saturated by violence and crime. The key factors are early identification and contiued follow up. Teachers, families, judges, police, pediatricians,mental health workers, CPS workers, domestic violence advocates and others who interact with kids have a responsibility to create interventions that decrease or prevent the harm associated with exposure to violence. These interventions are both physical and mental. These types of interventions rarely take into account the cumulative nature of the effects of violence on the life of a child. This single study focuses on the past year and lifetime exposures to violence across a number of categories to include physical, bullying, sexual victimization, child maltreatment, dating violence, witnessed and indirect victimization. In ages 6-9 sibling assault, bullying, and teasing or assault without a weapon were the most common and declined as the child aged. Older children ages 14-17 were the more likely to be exposed to more serious forms of violence including gang assault, assault with injury, sexual victimisation, and physical and emotional abuse. The most common group experiencing kidnapping with a gun were the 10-13 year old group. Over the next few posts, we will go further into this report and discuss the impact of victimization from infancy through later adolescence. Please come back for the follow ups. The full report can be located here

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