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Helping children cope With Violence
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Helping children cope With Violence



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  • In the days of dinosaurs this reaction to stress was a survival strategy


  • 1. The Repercussions of Violence Exposure on Our Children Dr. Kathy Seifert http://drkathyseifert.com
  • 2. Children and Babies Are Born Innocent
  • 4. The Development of Non-aggression in Children. Until 2 ½ all children are aggressive sometimes.  From 2 ½ to 5 or 6 years old, children need to be taught by adults non-aggressive ways to solve problems and get their needs met.  Those that are not taught and guided will continue to be aggressive after they enter school. This is a red flag that intervention is needed.
  • 5. Can be blocked by Trauma Can be blocked by Trauma Can be blocked by Trauma Piaget) Trauma Negatively Affects Moral Development, Kohlberg, 1969 (Expanded from
  • 7. What kinds of violence can children be exposed to?  Domestic or community violence  Natural disasters  News reports of violence  Violent video games  Violent movies
  • 9. Trauma Fight/Flight /Freeze Numb – unable to act Frontal Cortex Not in Use New Stressor - High Arousal - Excitability Hyper- Vigilant – Poor executive function In the days of dinosaurs this reaction to stress was a survival strategy. And led to safety.
  • 10. They learn to withdraw, hide or make themselves small.
  • 11. Or they may become angry, hostile, defiant and aggressive.
  • 12. How Can Exposure to Violence Affect Children  Depends on severity and chronicity and  Depends on support they get from other adults  Severe or chronic exposure without support can result in  Fears, anxiety, and depression  Acting out behaviors  Nightmares and poor sleep  Changes in eating habits  Not wanting to go to school  Delays in developing coping skills  Aggression toward others  Emotional Outbursts  Bullying
  • 13. How can that be changed?  Prevention  Assessment  Treatment  Risk Managment
  • 14. PREVENTION: What can parents do?  Listen to your child  Validate his emotions – all of his emotions are okay  Explain anything that is confusing  Explain things on your child’s developmental level  Limit watching reports of violence on TV  Reassure child that you will take care of him and keep him safe  Rehearse actions to take in an emergency  Teach non-aggressive ways to solve problems
  • 15. PREVENTION: What can schools do?  Anti-bullying programs school wide such as Olweus; http://www.violencepreventionworks.org/public/index.page  Character building programs like Character Counts; http://charactercounts.org/  Respect Programs such as Operation Respect; http://www.operationrespect.org/index2.php  Assess all youth that commit aggression or bullying to determine the types and levels of service needed to prevent future bullying, Such as the CARE2. http://care2systems.com
  • 16. PREVENTION: What the Community Can Do.  Home Visiting Programs  Head Start with family involvement  School based Mental Health  Coordination among agencies for high risk cases.
  • 18. INTERVENTIONS: Bullying at School  There are 2 types of bullies: Chronic and one to three time bullies  One to three time bullies can be taught to change behavior  Chronic bullies are likely to have more serious problems and need professional intervention  Bullying is an adult problem to solve because it is about changing a child’s behavior. Children are not sophisticated enough to know how to do that.
  • 19. INTERVENTIONS: What Parents can do about School Bullies  Talk to your children about the school day, so you know if they are being bullied  If there is bullying, go to the school for solutions and insist that it is handled  Make sure the school knows the difference in interventions for youth with minor and major problems.  Suspension is not a sufficient answer for bullies with severe problems.  Make sure the school watches for retaliation from the bullies.  Watch for Cyber bullying
  • 20. INTERVENTIONS: Things to limit  Violence in news reports  Violence in movies  Violence in video games  Violence on the internet – know the sites your child goes to on the internet. Place the computer the child uses in a place of high traffic in the home.  Let the child know that the computer will be checked for material that is not good for them.
  • 21. INTERVENTIONS: Levels of Treatment  High Risk – Multiple, Intensive Services including family, PRP, medication, help at school, safety at home and in the community, trauma informed treatment, and developmentally informed skill building for multiple years  Medium Risk – Individual, group, family, PRP skill building twice a week for a year.  Low Risk – individual, family or group weekly for 6 months.
  • 22. EBP • Case management • Multi-system integration • Family Therapy • Developmental approaches with skill building • CBT • Role playing • Dosage is important • Holistic approaches • Neuro-feedback & CES • Wrap-around INTERVENTIONS: Evidence based treatment for complex cases
  • 23. Provide interventions that match the child’s developmental level.  Many severely traumatized children are at the immediate gratification stage of development and are seeking a safe base.  Immediate gratification and needs of the self are primary  Must learn perspective taking and reciprocity before empathy  A safe environment is essential for healthy development. If the youth is still seeking a safe base, that must be established before exploration of the world and information gathering  You need some type of developmental guide for use in your treatment plan