course »Impact of Community Violence on Children

Date: 12/9/2016, 9:00 am—4:00 pm
County: Alameda County
CEUs: 5.5
Location: Oakland
Sponsor: Fred Finch Youth & Family Services
Phone: 510-482-2244
Many urban children, by the time they enter high school, have witnessed weapons, guns and other acts of violence, i.e., against people in their neighborhood or school. Community violence refers to being exposed, as a witness or through actual experience, to acts of interpersonal violence that are perpetrated by individuals who are not intimately related to the child. This includes law enforcement personnel. In contrast to community violence, domestic violence refers to acts of interpersonal violence that take place between adult partners. In communities with high rates of community violence, many families experience chronic stress and worry. Parents attribute their concerns to local crimes, such as, sexual assault, burglary, presence and use of weapons, muggings, the sound of gun shots, as well as, social disorder issues, e.g., the presence of graffiti, teen gangs, drugs, and racial divisions.

In addition to random violent acts by strangers, researchers are now beginning to study common verbal and non-verbal aggressive behaviors that are performed by children against other children or adults in their own communities, e.g., children who are commonly bullied or victimized in verbally aggressive ways by older children as they walk to school, ride the school bus, or play in the park. Such acts are no longer considered innocent forms of play but as acts of community violence. They are now, however, becoming of great concern to parents, educators and community leaders and are being investigated as precursors to more serious instances of community violence. Children who witness community violence are likely to develop a view of the world that is hostile and dangerous. Many such children become anxious, fearful and withdrawn. They internalize their fears and develop a range of problems symptoms and behaviors. Others come to believe that violence is a justified way to resolve conflict.