Are you aware that children of American Indian and Alaska Native lineage have higher rates of exposure to domestic violence than any other races in America?
There are both long-term and immediate effects due to heightened exposure to instances of domestic violence. For instance, kids experience:
- Poorer performance in school
- Higher rates of alterations in their neurological development
- Poor mental and physical health
- Higher incidences of substance abuse
- Overrepresentation in juvenile justice systems
Kids who are chronically exposed to violence in the home tend to suffer from severe trauma and toxic stress reactions. Sadly, AI/AN kids have rates of post-traumatic stress disorder that are equal to the rates of war veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Their rates are three times that of the country's general population.
Perfect storms mixes deadly brew
There is a convergence of factors that worsen the problem for children in these racial groups. They include the limits of jurisdictions to intercede, expanding crime rates, poverty and greatly under-resourced programs. All make it essential that both policymakers and service providers must assume that this racial group of kids have had exposure to domestic violence.
The Attorney General's Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence studied the epidemic of violence surrounding these children. The committee evaluated suggestions to prevent violence in the home and how to alleviate its impact on minor children.
It takes a (tribal) village
The Advisory Committee made recommendations to the former Attorney General of the United States. Solutions should be comprehensive and far-reaching in order to prevent continued exposure to violence in the home. It's also necessary for a prompt response to these unfortunate incidents to allow kids to heal from these traumatic exposures. Barriers must be lifted that inhibit tribal leaders from keeping kids away from violence and healing children with prior exposures.
No children should grow up surrounded by domestic violence. Regardless of race, if your home has become a battleground, seek legal advice to take the steps to end the cycle today.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, "Ending Violence so Children Can Thrive," U.S. Attorney General et al, accessed Sep. 15, 2017