By Jason Ledford; Army Community Service; Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiNovember 8, 2013
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Nov. 1, 2013) -- Children are like camcorders; from the moment they're born, they watch and record everything around them. This includes the good and the bad. This is how children learn.
Unfortunately, some children witness and record acts of domestic violence.
In one study, Dr. B.E. Carleson estimates that 3.2 million American children witness incidents of domestic violence annually. This exposure has severe consequences, like long-term effects that impact a child emotionally, physically or behaviorally.
According to the Domestic Violence Roundtable (a Massachusetts nonprofit group), some children may experience sleep disturbances. Further, children experience physical responses that may include stomachaches, headaches, bedwetting and loss of the ability to concentrate, as well as emotional responses that can include fear, guilt, shame, sadness, depression and anger.
A Department of Health and Human Services study states: "Children in families experiencing domestic violence are more likely than other children to exhibit aggressive and antisocial behavior or to be depressed and anxious."
Unfortunately, children who are exposed to domestic violence accept violence as a normal and acceptable behavior. Some roundtable researchers even suggested that a history of family violence or abuse is the most significant difference between delinquent and non-delinquent youth. Thus, children exposed to domestic violence may become victims, abusers or have mental health problems in the future.
Children learn by watching. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that children are learning healthy behaviors.
If you know or suspect a child is exposed to domestic violence, please intervene by calling 911 immediately.
Children are our community's most precious resource, and it is everyone's responsibility to protect them and our future.