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The Effects Of Violence On Children

Some children are exposed to a single severe violent event, such as being caught in sniper fire while leaving school. The negative impact of such exposure is well documented, with these children demonstrating traumatic effects such as reexperiencing and avoiding the trauma, and overreactivity.

Many children, though, are affected by chronic, pervasive forms of violence (e.g., witnessing drug deals, hearing gunfire, fighting) that occurs in multiple areas of their lives (e.g., home, neighborhood, Violence can be introduced into children's lives through many channels, including media elements like video games that feature realistic weaponry and high "body counts." (Anthony Snyder/Corbis) school). They may experience such violence directly as victims, as witnesses or by knowing someone who has been victimized. Some researchers have proposed the concept of multiple risk, suggesting that as children are exposed to an increasing number of risk factors (including violence in multiple spheres), their likelihood for suffering poor outcomes increases disproportionately. In these children, although they may suffer symptoms of trauma seen in children exposed to single violent events, it is more likely that broader declines in functioning are evident, including increased depression and anxiety, increased aggressive and antisocial behavior, decreased social competence, increased delinquency, moral disengagement, as well as decreased academic performance.

It has been widely observed that not all children exposed to violence—even severe, pervasive, and chronic violence—show poor outcomes. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, research was beginning to identify the factors that influence the path from violence exposure to outcome and was considering the role of a wide range of contextual influences.

Additional topics

Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 8Violence - The Incidence Of Violence Affecting Youth, Juvenile Suicide, Child Abuse/domestic Violence, An Ecological Framework For Understanding Violence - Juvenile Homicide, Violence and Gangs, Violence and Drug Use