Facts with Hope
FACT: A series of studies looking at Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) such as child abuse or neglect, has showed that it can lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even diabetes in the adult life.1
HOPE: Some parenting practices are associated with more favorable health behaviors in children. A study of 805 child-parent dyads showed that when kids perceived their parents to be very warmth and responsive they had higher intake of healthy nutritious food, while kids who perceived their parents to be less warm or responsive had a higher intake of unhealthy high caloric food.2 God designed that a home should be a little taste of Heaven. As a parent, you can set limits and provide structure while demonstrating caring words and loving gestures.
FACT: Children are negatively affected by victimization and the violence they witness in their homes and neighborhoods. A study of 167 caregiver-child pairs showed that being a abused was linked child aggression and depression, and that witnessing violence was also linked to child aggression, depression, anger, and anxiety.3
HOPE: This study shows that witnessing parents abuse each other through hurting words or actions can have the same negative effect as if the kids had been abused. Ask God and His angels to abide in your home by prioritizing daily worship and prayer as a family, and demonstrate words of love and compassion with your spouse, child or parent. Proverbs 12:18 states, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
FACT: Youth and their parents do not seem to agree on the amount of youth-witnessed violence exposure. In a study of 766 child-caregiver pairs demonstrated that 42% of youth reported witnessing youth violence, compared to only 15% of parents. This discrepancy suggests that a lack of parental awareness regarding youth violence exposure may impair parents’ ability to provide emotional support and coping skills, potentially leading to maladjustment in their children.4
HOPE: Having dinner together is one of the ways that parents and children can engage in conversation about their daily experiences. Open non-judgmental conversations can go along way to assess the types of experiences that youth have in school or in the company of their friends. As parent become more aware of how much violence their young kids are witnessing daily they will be better able to connect them with appropriate mental health services.
FACT: Studies show that family related factors have the strongest influence on the likelihood and the ramifications of youth exposure to violence. Good family functioning has been found to be protective in kids who are victims of violence outside the home thus reducing the chances they will become perpetrators of violence. Also, living with biological parents, having good family cohesion and authoritative supportive parenting were found to compensate and/or protect kids from being victims and also perpetrators of violence.6
HOPE: Invest in your family. Learn more about positive parenting strategies and how to build your home as a safe haven for your kids so they are ready to face the world and be resilient, despite the environment they are exposed to. Making time for one-on-one activities together, providing psychological and emotional support, and most of all, teaching them to rely on God as a friend and Counselor, will be the best gift you can give them.
- Adverse Childhood Experiences Reported by Adults. Center of Disease Control and Prevention (December 17,2010) --- Five States, 2009. 59(49); 1609-1613. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5949a1.htm. Accessed June 30, 2011.
- Ray, Carola et al. (2013) Does parental warmth and responsiveness moderate the associations between parenting practices and children's health-related behaviors? Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 45(6), pp. 602-610.
- Johnson, Renee et al (2002) Adverse behavioral and emotional outcomes from child abuse and witnessed violence. Child Maltreatment, 7(3), p. 179-186.
- Lewis, Terry et al (2012). Parent–youth discordance about youth-witnessed violence: Associations with trauma symptoms and service use in an at-risk sample. Child Abuse and Neglect, 36(11-12), pp. 790-797.
- Schlack, R. et al. (2013) Psychological problems, protective factors and health-related quality of life in youth affected by violence: The burden of the multiply victimized. Journal of Adolescence, 36(3), pp. 587-601.