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Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children's Exposure to Violence - Quick Reference Guide

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2007
6 pages
This English version of an instructional pamphlet for parents produced under the Safe Start Initiative - a cooperative Federal, State, and local effort to prevent and reduce children’s exposure to violence and its consequences - addresses the symptoms parents should look for and the help they can provide to children exposed to violence at the age levels of 0-6 years old, 7-11 years old, and adolescence.
Among the warning signs of exposure to violence for children between 0 and 6 years old are crying more than usual, becoming less responsive, crying when a parent leaves, eating problems, sleeps too much or too little, and asks many questions about the violence to which they were exposed. Suggestions for help include spending time alone with the child, soothing singing and rocking, and preventing the child from exposure to violent TV programs and books. For children ages 7 to 11 years old, signs of exposure to violence may include feeling responsible for or guilty about a violent event, wanting to be left alone, problem behavior, and aggressiveness. Assistance needed for children of this age level includes calm listening without judging, ensuring them they are not at fault for the event, avoiding hateful comments, and teaching non-violent ways to solve problems. Warning signs of an adolescent’s exposure to violence include complaints of tiredness, vengeful thoughts associated with the event, skipping school, and violent behavior. Helpful responses to adolescents exposed to violence include being patient with them, calm responses without judging, and encouraging involvement in safe and fun activities. Suggestions for additional resources for parents regarding children’s exposure to violence include hot lines, information and resources, and books for children.

Date Published: January 1, 2007