An extensive recent study shows that one in four US children are being exposed and affected by weapon violence.
Statistically, according to the journal Pediatrics, 1 in 33 children, which sum up to more than 17.5 millions in United States only, are being victimized by weapons such as guns or knives, or are seriously affected by their exposure in weapon violence.
A thorough research was conducted by author Kimberly Mitchell, by the means of a national telephone survey, and it included 4,114 children, aged between 2 and 17. Most of the children who took part in the survey are over 10 years old thus able to give their own answers without the help of a caregiver.
Other details of the study show that more than half the children involved in it were white boys, with only 19% Latinos and 15% black, while more than 60% of all children coming from middle-class backgrounds.
The research findings show that children from poor families, especially the ones who are not under the care of both biological or adoptive parents are at a higher risk of being victims or witnesses of gun violence.
The psychological marks of violence exposure are various and can be very traumatic for the children growing process. Thus, according to Dr. Denise Dowd, a specialist in pediatric emergency medicine at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri, repeated exposure to violence can trigger the toxic stress in children.
Scientifically explained, the toxic stress is experienced when one is feeling threatened, thus chemical changes produced in the brain will further affect other bodily functions, and the overall immune system.
The nervous system will then release certain hormones, such as adrenaline, which will force the body into the state of the so called “fight or flight” response. Such repeated responses to toxic stress can affect children on the long term. Depression or suicidal thoughts are more frequent in adults who have been exposed to violence during their childhood.
And what’s more is that, an even more interesting study shows that children who have been exposed to violence in their youth are highly prone to carry weapon themselves as adults, thus the circle of violence will be difficult to break.
More precaution and involvement from parents and school teachers could help improve the overall outcome or the development of children and young adults.
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