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Fostering Resilience in Children Exposed to Domestic Violence

by Karen Stephens
September/October 2010
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/fostering-resilience-in-children-exposed-to-domestic-violence/5019568/

Whether staff realizes it or not, early childhood programs are not just fun and engaging places for children to play and learn. For some children, our programs are bonafide daytime havens from turmoil. I’m speaking specifically about those children who find themselves in the cross-fire of violence between the people they love most in the world â€" their own family members. The violence might be verbal intimidation and humiliation, or a combination of verbal and physical attack. Either way, it’s terrifying for the children witnessing assault behind closed doors. Whether violent episodes in the home are a one-time occurrence â€" or a long time, repeated pattern of family dysfunction â€" the fallout of violence leaves a mark on children’s emotional spirit and overall development, including typical brain development.

Children enmeshed in violence don’t experience a relaxed, predictable, or trusting home life. In fact, children exposed to home violence often experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) just as adults do after enduring violence. Domestic violence robs children of their childhood. And while early childhood staff can’t erase the effects of violence on children’s individual make-up, they can become a positive mediating factor. By nurturing children’s ability to rebound from challenges, ...

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