Sunday, November 1, 2009

Understanding the Progression of Violence. Prt 3

1 in 20 children witnessed someone being shot, 1 in 200 witnessed a murder, and 1 in 50 were sexually assaulted according to a survey done by the Crimes Against Children Research Center. As children grow older, the incidences of victimization increases to the point of 1 in 10 14-17 year olds witnessing a shooting in the past year, while 1 in 75 witnessed a murder. 2 in 5 children surveyed were exposed to 2 or more types of violence in the previous year. More than 1 in 10 was exposed to 5 or more different types of violence in the same time period. Studies continue to prove repeated exposure to traumatic violence has long lasting effects upon not only the the mental functioning of a child, but their physical well being also. These issues carry over into their adult life if they are not identified and given the appropriate care early on. Take a look at your local news. How many young adults are experiencing dramatic issues with authority, lack of regard for life, lack of respect for property,and people. Animal abuse and child abuse continue to rise despite increased awareness campaigns. The damaged children of the past are now the young adults who are causing havoc in our communities. No other group of children have ever experienced the threats this generation does. No other group has had to cope with bombs and shootings in school, violence in their front yards, drive by shootings, forced sex trafficking, and child abductions. We are getting exactly what we have put into the children. We cut funding to care for them , cut budgets for their education and crowded our schools to the point of exploding, and they are. More needs to be done to ask children about what types of exposure to violence they have encountered. What type of assault and by whom and where. Any tools used to evaluate a child's exposure to violence must take into account the developmental capabilities of the child and the caretaker. Violence takes a toll on children, be they witnesses or victims. Any exposure to violence needs to be talked about and evaluated. None of us were born knowing how to cope with certain events. We were taught, either by the adults we saw in the same situation or by society at large. These kids may not be able to process the needed information due to traumatic exposure issues which prevent them from being fully present in their lives. Some children cope by "checking out". Some turn to anger and agression as the only thing they see that will keep them safe. Children learn what they live is an old saying. Old sayings that have been around for a while are still here because they are true. I don't have one clear answer. Clearly more work is needed. There are no fast answers on how to prevent children from being exposed to violence in their daily lives. They live it. But we can recognize it and talk about how to help these families that may be at risk for increased violence. We can reach out ot a troubles child and let them talk to us, with no judgement, just talk in their own language about what they are dealing with. Listening to our kids is the first thing we have to get right. For more information about what you can do visit

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