CHILDREN EXPOSED TO VIOLENCE

IF YOU THINK A CHILD IS IN DANGER, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY.

The Children Exposed to Violence initiative within the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney is the first of its kind in the nation. A trauma-informed agency that supports children from the time a violent crime is committed through the criminal justice process, this vital unit is dedicated to reducing the impacts of violence inflicted on children.

 

The exposure of children to violence is a national epidemic that affects an estimated 46- million children in the United States. No matter where the violence occurs, at home, school, or in the neighborhood, exposure to violence is a uniquely traumatic experience for children with consequences that can last a lifetime.

 

Recognizing this troublesome reality, prosecutors within the Children Exposed to Violence initiative are devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of children.

COMMON TYPES OF VIOLENCE TO WHICH CHILDREN ARE EXPOSED

Prenatal Exposure to Violence:

  • Violence experienced by the Mother is also experienced by the unborn child.

  • Screaming, yelling or extremely loud noises are experienced by the unborn child as distress.

 

Exposure to Violence in Infancy:

  • Assault by a sibling

  • Loud/Violent Arguments between parents.

  • Violence against the primary caregiver.

  • Neglect/Physical/Sexual abuse.

 

Exposure to Violence in Young Children (Ages 2‐5), Middle‐Age Children (Ages 6‐10):

  • Bullying/Assaults by peers or others with or without a weapon.

  • Sexual Abuse/Assault

  • Sexual Harassment

  • Witnessing Community and/or Family Violence.

 

Exposure to Violence in Pre‐Teens (Ages 11 to 13) and Adolescence (Ages 14 to 17):

  • All psychological & emotional abuse

  • Bullying/Assaults by Peers with or without a weapon.

  • Dating Violence

  • Gang Violence

  • Sexual Assault / Harassment

  • Unwanted Online Sexual Solicitation or Exploitation.

  • Witnessing Community and/or Family Violence.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I KNOW MY CHILD HAS BEEN EXPOSED TO VIOLENCE OR TRAUMA?

The first thing to consider is the safety of the child. Is the child in a safe place? If not, make sure to get the child to a safe place, if possible. Once the child is safe, it is good to talk to the child about what happened. Talking to children about violence is never easy.


Adults tend to avoid talking to children for the following reasons:

  • It is over now. Why talk about it?

  • It might make things worse.

  • I do not know what to say.

  • I am scared to bring it up

  • I have tried, but my child does not want to talk about it.


It is normal to have these thoughts, but talking is the first step toward healing. You may feel uncomfortable, but here are some ways to get started:

  • Take a deep breath.

  • Talk to someone you trust and who can help you gather your thoughts.

  • Plan what you want to say to your child.

MORE RESOURCES

Children’s Institute:  www.childrensinstitute.org, 213-385-5100

WellNest (formerly the LA Child Guidance Center):  www.lacgc.org, 323-766-2345

Violence Intervention Program:  violenceinterventionprogram.org, 323-221-4134

National Domestic Violence Hotline:  www.thehotline.org, 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) / 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) 

Peace Over Violence:  www.peaceoverviolence.org, 626-793-3385

Brochure: Reducing the Cause & Effect of Children Exposed to Violence:  https://bit.ly/2O1OyCY 

White Paper: Children Exposed to Violence - A Trauma-Informed Response for Prosecutors:  https://bit.ly/2qIxsSx

Video Links:

Sesame Street: Breathe, with Common and Elmo:  https://bit.ly/2rtroxL

US Department of Justice, Defending Childhood:  https://bit.ly/2CxdyN4

California Attorney General, Exposure to Violence and a Child's Developing Brain:  https://bit.ly/34Mkke4

Office For Victims of Crime, Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma:  https://bit.ly/2qELpky

Office For Victims of Crime, Addressing Violence in the Home:  https://bit.ly/2X2n2cw

Monsters In The Closet, Domestic Violence From a Child's View:  https://bit.ly/2NUq3HU

 

Helpful Publications:  https://bit.ly/2WXERd0

Other Resources:  https://bit.ly/2WZJQdb

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The Office of Mike Feuer

Los Angeles City Attorney

James K. Hahn City Hall East, Suite 800

Los Angeles, CA 90012 | 213-978-8100