Community violence prevention and awareness at the local level

Peoria program helps children, families cope with violence

http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1752170746/Peoria-program-helps-children-families-cope-with-violence

Exposure to community violence is an ongoing problem, especially with children, and there are a variety of agencies and individuals working tirelessly to combat it. Defining violence exposure overall and community violence can be an overwhelming task as both have very broad meanings. Community violence usually involves interpersonal violence i.e. gang related problems, assault, incidents involving weapons, etc; and exposure to violence encompasses abuse, neglect or child maltreatment, domestic violence, and community violence. This article describes the Heart of Illinois Safe from the Start Program (HOI), which, for the past ten years, has been working to help kids deal with the violence in their surroundings.

HOI finds that many of their referrals come from situations that involve mostly domestic violence and not community violence, which they find surprising, due to the level of community violence exposure in their communities. The article points out that the prevailing problem is more that there is still very little understanding about how community violence hurts children and what the long-term effects of exposure are on their behavior, now and in the future.

The 2010 Illinois State Health Improvement Plan,  is also noted, which tasks the State with improving and reducing violence, and this improvement plan should extend to a better understanding of how community violence affects all aspects of the community, i.e., at home or school. It’s important for officials and the overall community to understand the impact so that they can help increase prevention and awareness of the problem. If there is increased awareness about the connection between exposure to violence and issues like delinquency rates and problematic behavior, it could be another step in combating the after effects of the violence and can help stop the cycle from continuing.

Further Resources:

Safe Start Center Trauma-Informed Care Tipsheets

http://www.safestartcenter.org/resources/tip-sheets.php

Chicago Safe Start

http://www.chicagosafestart.net/

Community and School Violence Reading List

http://www.nctsn.org/resources/online-research/reading-lists/community-and-school-violence

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Children exposed to violence is a global epidemic

Tanzania report reveals extent of violence against children

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2011/aug/09/tanzania-violence-against-children

This post from the UK Guardian Poverty Matters Blog, discusses a new breakthrough study conducted in Tanzania and put out by the Muhimbili University in Dar es Salaam and the CDC. Study findings note that close to 75% of all children had been exposed to some type of violence before reaching adulthood. In addition, the researchers note that reports show that violence exposure in childhood can cause numerous social and emotional problems for the rest of the child’s development.

The outcomes of the Tanzanian study also parallel the findings of the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NATSCEV) and The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study which also reiterate that children coming into contact with violence and trauma may experience long-term detrimental  effects, sometimes in spite of their natural resilience. The NATSCEV in particular notes that, “All too often, however, children who are exposed to violence undergo lasting physical, mental, and emotional harm. They suffer from difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, anxiety and depression, and aggression and conduct problems. They may be more prone to dating violence, delinquency, further victimization, and involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems” (NATSCEV 2).

Finally, several nations are working to address children’s exposure to violence through studies and legislation. In early 2008, Swaziland was the first African country to conduct a survey of the level of violence exposure of women and children. More recently, in June 2011, in Australia a study was released reiterating that the idea, that children exposed to domestic violence are experiencing a form of child abuse, is becoming a more widely accepted thought. Also, early this month Tanzania committed itself to strengthening laws against violence exposure.

Witnessing or directly experiencing violence, especially children, is becoming a widely recognized problem on the international level. Cultural and emotional barriers exist all over the world which inhibit the recognition and treatment of the effects of this exposure, particularly the mental and emotional health of the survivor. This new study demonstrates the ongoing breakdown of the taboos that surround discussion and treatment of this issue. Such progress is the first step in increasing awareness and supporting prevention, and creating a more trauma-informed global society.

Other Related Studies and Links:

Safe Start Center

Research Studies and Reports

http://www.safestartcenter.org/research/research-studies-reports.php

UNICEF United Republic of Tanzania

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/tanzania.html

 Violence Against Children: United Nations Secretary-General’s Study

http://www.unviolencestudy.org/

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Violence Against Children and Young Women in Swaziland

A Brief from UNICEF Swaziland

http://www.unicef.org/swaziland/sz_media_Ten_Things_2.pdf

 

 

Update!

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children Praises Tanzania’s work pioneering work in data and research on violence against children!

http://srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org/story/2011-09-20_384

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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