Protecting Our Children from Violence

We all want the best for our children. But how do we protect them from today’s increasingly violent world? Children usually see and hear more than we realize and since they often don’t understand the true cause of violence, they can end up blaming themselves.

A child who witnesses violence at a young age can develop lifelong behavioral problems such as anxiety disorders, panic attacks, intrusive memories or flashbacks, addictions and self-injury. It can even cause children to become violent and aggressive themselves.

The key is getting them help from a professional early.

  • Protect your children by eliminating physical confrontations or arguing in their presence. Remember that the safety of a child is closely connected to your own safety.
  • Listen carefully to childrens’ worries and let them know that adults are doing everything possible to keep them safe.
  • Encourage them to talk about what happened. Younger children may express themselves in their play or drawings.
  • Give clear, simple explanations about scary events.
  • Limit television viewing and monitor the type of content they watch.

A Terrible Thing Happened – A Story for Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma

by Margaret M. Holmes and Cary Pillo

This illustrated book is written for children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic events including physical abuse, school and gang violence, accidents, homicides, suicides or natural disasters. An afterword by Sasha J. Mudlaff is written for parents and other caregivers offering suggestions for helping traumatized children, including a list of other sources that focus on specific events.

Check your local library.

 

Information courtesy of Mental Health America and the Child Witness to Violence Project