Left unaddressed, exposure to violence has serious consequences for children’s ability to succeed in school, lead healthy lives, and contribute positively to their communities. This is especially true with exposure to parental domestic violence.
Children who witness domestic violence often experience the same things as the adult victims themselves, such as self-blame, nervousness, fear of abandonment, depression and other forms of behavioral and emotional distress. Additionally, children who have been exposed to violence are at a higher risk to engage in criminal behavior as adolescents.
Here in Colorado, there is a growing effort within our school system to address the trauma of youth who have experienced violence. Introduced by the Center on Domestic Violence at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs, the END Violence Project aims to better equip school personnel to identify students who have been exposed to, or have experienced, domestic and sexual assault and facilitate access to both intervention services for victims and prevention education services for all students.
Barbara Paradiso, Director for the Center, notes this emerging interest among schools and educators in developing school-wide, trauma-informed policies and protocols.
“Now, there’s much more understanding of the impact of trauma on young people and the importance of addressing it early. Our goal with the END Violence Project is to create long lasting and systemic change in our school communities so that trauma responses are minimized and the educational environment is enhanced for all students.”
Barbara also notes that beyond violence, those working directly with youth are coming to understand how connected many different issues are, from teen pregnancy to youth suicide.
“There are so many risk and resiliency factors that are common to the concerns we have for young people. We’ve begun to realize that breaking down the silos between our responses to these areas of concern is important to building truly effective trauma-informed services, and to creating response strategies that don’t overwhelm caregivers.”
To learn more about the END Violence Project and the Center on Domestic Violence, visit www.cdvdenver.org.