What are the consequences of child violence?

Cover credit: UN Photo/Martine Perret (Flickr)

Cover credit: UN Photo/Martine Perret (Flickr)

Children violence is an issue that is more common nowadays. Even though sometimes we are not aware of it, studies have shown that each year, three to four million children between the ages of three and 17 are at risk for domestic violence.

Violence should not be taken literally. Violence can mean seeing someone being mistreated, being threatened over and over again, or witnessing domestic violence between parents without actually being the violated person.

Children are very sensitive to any kind of threat. An instability within the house is directly felt by the child, pushing them to have mixed up feelings and ambivalence. When they observe and watch their mother being mistreated, children often start feeling guilt and sadness, especially if their father is the abuser. Eventually, those reactions can have long-term consequences and inhibit their normal development.

But several times, children are themselves subject to physical violence and abuse. In those cases, their reactions are various. While some might get over the negative experience and overcome the trauma, others will manifest longterm consequences due to the violence they were exposed to.

Before talking about the consequences that violence can lead to, it is important to mention that some of these examples of child violence are determined by certain factors: the child’s age, the type of violence (physical abuse, neglect, to name a few), the relationship between the child and the abuser and the frequency and severity of the act of violence.

Physical effects are the most visible at first, like bruises, lacerations, burns and fractures. Sometimes, the physical effects are temporary, but other times violence can lead to severe physical health problems like head trauma, hemorrhage or even death.

Psychological consequences are the most diverse. A child’s reaction to violence differs according to their ability to cope and overcome it. This is called “resilience” and is not innate but developed through positive experiences. These consequences include anxiety, depression, flashbacks and more. Moreover, we see that following the act of violence academic problems start occurring, especially when help is not offered to the child in order to overcome the difficult experience. They feel alone and insecure.

Emotional and behavioral problems might appear as well. Violated children become more sensitive, and hypervigilant to any sort of danger, even when there isn’t any. Their adaptation skill decreases and they become more reactive and aggressive.

Since they have been exposed to danger, these children, once adult, find it difficult to feel secure and stable, because during the time where they should have been in an ultimate security, they were not. Therefore, they cannot express their feelings openly.

In case of any children violence, it is very important to offer help because, with the right professional guidance and interventions, children can overcome the trauma, start to heal and go on with their lives.