Violence is typically the most toxic and damaging element that children are exposed to. Coming into contact with unbridled human rage is a scary experience. It tends to leave a child feeling helpless, terrified, and insecure about the world at large. It has the potential to impact just about every aspect of their lives.
Children Who Witness Violence
One fact that often catches adults by surprise is this: Children end up just as traumatized whether they are the direct victims of violence or merely witnesses to it. In other words, when a mother or father engages in domestic abuse against a partner, or when a child witnesses a violent attack against someone they know and care about, it is generally just as damaging to kids as if they had been attacked directly.
Those children who witness violence show similar stress reactions to those who are personally victimized. (Perry, 1997) They exhibit symptoms of PTSD at rates just as high or even higher than kids who have been personally victimized. (Jenkins & Bell, 1994; Scheeringa & Zeanah, 1995) The feelings of fear and terror, the sense of helplessness, the high levels of stress hormones rushing through the body, the lost sense of safety and security; all these things occur regardless of whether a child is the target of violence or merely a passive observer. (Hygge & Ohman, 1978)
Sources of childhood violence
There are several all-too-common types of violence that children are exposed to: