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Impact of Violence on Child Development

There is a myth that the younger a child is who has witnessed or been the subject of violence, the less impact the event will have on the child.  The reality is that young children do not forget what they have witnessed and that they have an extraordinary capacity to recall traumatic events.  Recent brain research supports the belief that maltreatment and witnessing violence can have a negative impact on a child’s development.

Children can be exposed to violence directly as victims of child abuse or indirectly as witnesses to domestic violence, school violence, community violence, and the abuse of other children.
(info from One Goal sum conf 2006 ppt)

  • Domestic Violence -  Parents who are violent with one another are at a higher risk for physically abusing their children - Straus, 1992
  • Domestic violence has been found to be the single most common precursor to child death in the United States -Mills et al., 2000
  • Children exposed to domestic violence are also at risk to repeat their experience in the next generation, either as victims or perpetrators of violence in their own intimate relationships 
  • 12% of households have some level of marital aggression
  • 2-4% of families experience severe violence
  • 40-60% overlap between child abuse and domestic violence in the same family.
  • School Violence - can include emotional and physical ridicule or bullying, assaults, threats, sexual offenses, as well as vandalism, trespassing and gangs.
  • Many children who display violent behavior at school are exposed to violence or abuse outside of school and may be in need of help from adults. - Stein et al., 2003
  • Children who are victimized in school crime often suffer from decreased self-esteem, truancy, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and in extreme cases, suicide and violent retaliation.

For more information on the impact of violence on a child's development, click on the links below.

Kid Source

Child Information Gateway

Centers for Disease Control & Preventions Injury Prevention