Exposure to violence has a lasting impact

More than 350,000 Canadian children are exposed to family or domestic violence and the effects are far reaching, according to Anuradha Dugal, director of Canada Women’s Foundation’s violence prevention program.

“Many children who are exposed to domestic violence suffer from depression and it is associated with having difficulty in school and making connections with peers,” she said. “It can also lead to victims who may victimize others.”

While young children in Canada have one of the lowest rates of police-reported family violence against them, those children who were victims of violence were at the most risk of being killed by a family member, according to Family Violence In Canada, a study done by Statistics Canada based on police reports and self reporting of abuse.

According to the RCMP, there effects of child abuse and family violence can show up in a variety of ways. They include self-blame, feelings of guilt and shame, clinging, extreme shyness, extreme and repetitive nightmares, loneliness, long bouts of sadness, social withdrawal, separation anxiety, fear of strangers, fear of others of same gender as their abuser, general fearfulness, anxiety and phobias.

The RCMP also said victims may have feelings of being out of control, intrusive thoughts, feelings of stigmatization, insecure attachment to parents and caregivers, loss of faith, truancy, running away, fighting with peers, criminal offending, and early use of drugs and alcohol.

The effects of abuse can also show itself in many physical ailments, such as developmental delay, headaches, stomach aches, bed wetting and soiling, eating disorders, self-mutilation or burning, thoughts of suicide, dissociation and inappropriate sexual behavior, states the RCMP.

According to Statistics Canada, girls are disproportionately represented as victims of family violence. In 2011, rates of family violence were 56 per cent higher for girls compared to boys. Young females consistently experienced higher rates of violence over every type of offense. Their highest risk was for sexually-based offences.

The study also found that rates of physical assaults against children have been relatively stable between 2009 and 2011, while rates of sexual assaults dropped over the same period.

In 2011, there were 18,300 child victims of family violence based on police reports. That equates to 267 child victims for every 100,000 Canadians under the age of 18.

This article, written by Edmonton freelance writer Dave S. Clark was originally published by QMI Agency.