The issue of exposure to violence touches on a wide range of issues. This week we’re highlighting awareness about Children Exposed to Violence and one of its most difficult and common exposures – community violence.
What exactly do we mean by “community violence” and how does it affect children?
Well, the NYU Child Study Center states:
“Community violence (CV) refers to exposure, as a witness or through actual experience, to acts of interpersonal violence perpetrated by individuals who are not intimately related to the victim. In contrast to community violence, domestic violence refers to acts of interpersonal violence between adult intimate partners.”
But, it is also important to remember that community violence can happen anywhere, and is an umbrella for a variety of issues that include things such as gang violence and delinquency.
Now that we’ve explained what it is, what is the affect on children?
According the National Survey on Children Exposed to Violence (NatSCEV)
“19.2 percent of U.S. children under the age of 18 witnessed an assault in their community during a one-year period. The percentage rises with the age of the child: 5.8 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds witnessed an assault in their community, while 42.2 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds witnessed an assault.”
Exposure to community violence can hurt children and they are more likely as they grow to develop a harmful and hostile view of the world. They are also one of the highest groups at-risk for re-victimization later in life.
Let’s take a look at gang violence as one aspect of a kind of community violence that negatively impacts kids.
First, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry defines “gangs [as] groups of children, adolescents and young adults who share a common identity and are involved in wrongful or delinquent activities.” These same activities can lead to repeat victimizations or even death.
A recent example from the, Chicago Sun-Times, shares the severe consequences of youth related community gang violence in the Chicago neighborhood of Roger’s Park. In just the past week alone, there were 16 shootings, including 5 murders, showing an increase in the level of violence since 2011. Sadly, this is just one example of many.
But there are ways to fight back that communities and individuals can use to help stop the exposure to violence in their communities.
A great example of this can be seen here, Roseland’s churches campaign to stop neighborhood violence. Churches, residents and community groups in this Chicago neighborhood are banding together to start community-wide efforts to teach awareness about violence exposure. These efforts are targeted to help treat survivors of violence and to help increase protection for their children in the community.
If you want more resources and programs that help prevent community violence, check out the Child Welfare Information Gateway. They have a wide variety of resources and here you’ll find a specific list of state and local examples.
You can also check out more about what the Safe Start initiative has done to help children exposed to violence in the community and other settings in the Communities Working Together To Help Children Exposed to Violence Findings From Phase I of the Safe Start Initiative.
Please continue to join us this week as we talk more about CEV awareness!