Some people think of violence as a social problem that doesn't directly affect their family. Others know violence as a daily, personal reality. Both groups feel powerless to stop it.
Experts agree the best place to begin the fight against violence is within the family. There are many practical steps a parent can take to create a less violent family. A calm home atmosphere can make your child less likely to act violently and less likely to be the victim of violence.
Now is the best time to begin taking steps against violence such as those listed below.
- Create a less violent home environment. Family members who witness or experience domestic, sexual or child abuse in the home are more likely to be violent in the community.
- Watch for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress resulting from witnessing or being a victim of violence. If untreated, post-traumatic stress may lead to future violence. Symptoms include:
- Irritability or crankiness.
- Nightmares or flashbacks.
- A desire for isolation.
- Limit access to violent television and movies. View questionable programs together and talk afterward. Express your concern through letters or calls to news media outlets.
- Maintain a gun-free home. Suicide is seven times more likely if there is a gun in the home. If firearms must be available, limit your child's access.
- Limit access to alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and drug use makes it more difficult to think clearly, changes the user's ability to judge situations andmakes it easier for that person to react violently.
- Fight violence with healthy activity. Find ways to keep children at home or busy in places away from violent activities.
- Discuss ways to handle violent situations:
- Talk about ways to get out as quickly as possible.
- Teach methods for calming an angry peer.
Seek out community violence prevention programs. Learn additional prevention tips and join in community-wide efforts. Project Ujima is an established community project committed to helping stop the cycle of violent crimes. Project Ujima is a collaborative effort of Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, The Medical College of Wisconsin and Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services. For more information about Project Ujima, call (414) 266-2557 or visit www.projectujima.org.