First Aid & Emergency Know-How: Helping Kids Cope With Violence

A child expert shares how children can persevere despite great odds.


Lessons From Resilient Kids

Ignoring children's fears can destroy their ability to be hopeful, says Betsy McAlister Groves, author of Children Who See Too Much. As founder of the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, Groves works with children who see violence firsthand in their homes and communities. Here, she shares what she's gleaned from kids who persevere despite great odds.

Q: How does exposure to violence transform children's views of the world?

A: Kids who are raised in violent environments grow up to see the world as a hostile, unpredictable place. They accept violence as a part of life and have a hard time letting down their guard.

Q: Is this also a danger for children who've seen graphic images of the terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan?

A: Although it's more emotionally upsetting to witness violent acts firsthand, seeing the attacks on TV or hearing about them can also disturb children. The key factor affecting your child's response is your own reaction. Kids look to you to see how they should react. So you have to think about what you say and how you act in front of your children.

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