Thursday, October 29, 2009

Violence and Children: Looking Deeper

60% of our children are victims of violence at some point during their lives. The most common types of victimization in infancy is assault by a sibling usually with no weapon or injury. Also, the witnessing of assault against a family member is high during this period. Parents know the possibility of sibling rivalry can cause some cause for concern. Parents also know the younger the child, the greater the chance for an incident, especially if the older child is under 36 months old. With teens having babies and several having multiple births in a short period of time, we can see where this tye of exposure to violence is definitely on the rise. In the toddler years( ages 2-5)the most common type of victimizations are sibling assault, again with no injury or weapon, bullying and witnessing family assault. Most people are shocked to find that bullying comes in so early in a child's experience. But if we think about it, how many children have their toys taken from them by older kids and get pushed down on the playground? In middle childhood (ages 6-9) The victimization extends to physical bullying and emotional bullying or teasing. When we look at the next category ( ages 10-13) Assault with a weapon is the most common type followed by sexual harassment, kidnapping, witnessing family assault and witnessing intimate partner violence, At age 10 our kids are exposed to a variety of crimes against them having to do with sex. Kidnapping is carried out for forced prostitution, sex trafficking and child pornography. Intimate partner violence is usually parental, but can also involve the child themselves. At age 14-17 the child is a a peak risk for assault with injury, assault by a peer ( non sibling) genital assault, dating violence, sexual victimization of all types, sexual assault,sexual harassment, flashing or sexual exposure, unwanted sexual solicitation online, any maltreatment, psychological or emotional abuse, witnessing community assault, exposure to shootings and school bomb threats or attacks. So the life of a child in the United States from ages 14-17 looks pretty bleak. Here is another fact to add to the picture: a significant number of children, 64.5%, who were exposed to one type of violence both within the past year and over their lifetimes were at far greater risk of experiencing other types of violence. For example, a child who was physically assaulted in the past year would be 5 times more likely to be sexually victimized and 4 times more likely to be maltreated in some way. In Texas, the Blue Ribbon Task Force against Child Abuse is a community organization that works to prevent child abuse with things like billboards and block walks. The task force has been in place for several years. It has a Senator involved for legislative push. The rate of child deaths in Bexar county continues to rise. Whatever efforts have been made in the past, are not addressing the issue of the children who are victims of violence. First responders need to be aware of the impact of violence scenes on the children who may have witnessed them. usually it is much later that these children enter into therapy or counseling after they have begun to exhibit behaviours that place them at risk for school expulsion and abandonment. More needs to be done to identify these children at the scene and get them involved in care. The time is ripe for this country to put it's full force of power and money inot the lives of our children instead of into proping up corporations and endless fights in Washington that waste time and money. Every legislator,federal, state and local, needs to read this report and be held accountable for what they choose to do with the information. We all do. In the coming posts , we will look at the progression of violence and where to go for more information and help. Please see previous post for the link to the entire report.

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