Intended for parents and other caregivers, this paper first notes the variable adverse effects on children of their exposure to violence and then outlines the behavioral warning signs of these effects on children and teens, followed by a discussion of ways in which parents and caregivers can prevent or mitigate these effects.
No matter what their age, children are significantly harmed when they are physically, sexually, or emotionally abused or when they observe or hear violence in their homes, schools, and communities. Although the nature of violence experienced by a child or teen will vary, as will their reaction to it, such events, especially when they are ongoing and intense, will foster behavioral and emotional problems. This paper outlines the types of problems or warning signs that can occur for the following age groups when exposed to violence: children 5 years old and younger, children 6-12 years old, and teens 13-18 years old. Parents and caregivers are then advised that the best way to help children exposed to violence is to ensure that they feel safe. This can be done by creating a predictable environment, encouraging them to express their feelings, and ensuring them that they were not the cause of the violence. Other advice to parents and caregivers includes assisting children to prepare for changes and new experiences; spending more time together as a family; and maintaining a regular schedule for meals, quiet time, play time, and bed time. Parents should also seek advice on how to help their children who have been exposed to violence. Sources of support include a family member, friend, teacher, or others experienced in caring for children. The paper concludes with a discussion of when professional help may be needed for a child exposed to violence. 7 resource listings
Date Published: January 1, 2011