All children deserve a safe and secure home – free of violence – and parents/guardians that love and protect them. But for many children, home is not a place of stability and support; it is far from a safe haven. Children do not have to see one parent or guardian violently assaulting another to witness domestic violence; they can also hear the sounds of violence and are aware of it from many telltale signs. Children’s exposure to domestic violence has a profound impact on their future. Many kids are suffering silently, and with little support.
Although the number is hard to pinpoint, statistics show that over 3 million children are exposed to violence in their homes annually in the United States. Children react to their environment in different ways, and reactions can vary depending on the child’s gender and age. Here’s how domestic violence can affects children of all ages:
- Cry more and are more irritable
- Sleep disturbances
- Digestive problems
- May resist being held or fed
- May be developmentally delayed
Toddlers and pre-schoolers:
- Low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence
- More aggressive or withdrawn
- Exhibit high levels of anxiety and fearfulness
- Physical issues such as stomach aches
- Problems with toilet training
- Low self-esteem
- Feel inadequate for not being able to protect adult
- May be suicidal
- May lack social skills and do poorly in school
- Juvenile delinquency or battering in dating relationships
Although reading this may be alarming and discouraging, the good news is that there is help available. Locally, Hubbard House is addressing the impact of domestic violence on children through its Helping At Risk Kids (HARK) program. HARK is a 12-week program designed to empower children from abusive homes by helping them understand the violence is not their fault, helping them know what to do should they be in danger, and teaching them non-violent conflict resolution skills, so the violence will not be repeated in the next generation.
For more information regarding the HARK program and outreach services or to make an appointment for your child please call the Hubbard House Outreach Center at (904) 400-6300 or visit hubbardhouse.org to learn more.