Violence and its Effects to Children


The term violence comes from the word violent. Violent means involving or caused by physical force that is intended to hurt or kill somebody. Violence may also be referred to as showing very strong emotions in form of reaction. Generally, violence revolves around power and its main aim is to physically, emotionally, and psychologically harm others.

The urban area is a location connected with a town or city whereas a rural area is a location connected with the countryside. In urban areas, violence is divided into three main categories; they are political violence, communal and ethnic violence, and criminal and anomic violence.

Children are victims of assaults and are exposed to violence daily in their schools, homes, and community. When violence is exposed to children, they not only suffer from immediate trauma of the incident but also, socially and psychologically toxic environment. For an instant, children exposed to violence most likely may end up having an abusive adult relationship, aggressive disorder, behavioral disorder, academic difficulties, emotional disorder, anxiety disorder, and many more others. In children, there are different types of violence namely, community violence, school violence, domestic violence, and media violence.

Violence in Urban Areas

Urban violence is the ruin of human beings and their properties within an urban location. Violence in urban areas is mainly constituted by the rapid increase in population due to rural–urban migration. This is mainly evident in developing countries. Factors that may lead to an increase in violence in urban areas include the periodic crisis of the economy, democratization demands from workers, reduction of states’ ability to deal with changes in politics, and steady weakening of the rural experience as a datum of measuring relative economic base and opportunity. Growth in urban areas is quite gentle. However, considering factors such as the presence of a weak state and crises in the economy, urban growth seems to highly contribute to violence.

To add to this, speedy growth of an urban area, as noted by Kasarda and Parnell, may lead to high unemployment and underemployment rate simply because the urban labor markets cannot absorb the rising number of job seekers, elevated urban poverty, unsatisfactory shelter, lack of sanitation among others.

Violence in Rural Areas

Most scholars and researchers take time in studying urban patterns of violence, as a result, leaving out the rural areas. Due to this, violence in a rural areas is one of the least known topics. In rural areas, violence is mainly based on the urge to act against one’s parent to damage their reputation in the area around. Generally, violence occurs more frequent in urban areas than in rural areas because, in rural areas (Kulig, 2006, p.1), people are few compared to urban areas, due to rural-urban migration, thus making them close to one another thus making the flow of information and resources smooth. This reduces the rate of crime tremendously.

The few rural communities which have a high violence rate are highly influenced by cultures that bring about the use of violence to resolve conflicts, poverty, urbanization, a rapid change that weakens local community norms enforcing law and order, organized crime, and urban export (Kulig, 2006, p.1).

Violence to Children

Children are exposed to violence through conventional crimes, peer and sibling victimization, school violence and threat, sexual victimization, child maltreatment, family and community assaults, internet violence, and victimization (Finkelhor, 2009, p.1).

Developmental Difference in Children’s Exposure to Violence

Violence exposure affects children of all ages and may lead to long-term consequences.

During infancy stage

In this stage, violence is either through, assault by a fellow sibling, emotional assault, or a case where the child witnesses family members assaulting each other.

During toddler years (2 – 5 years old)

During this stage, toddlers are exposed to all those victimizations experienced by infants with bullying being additional.

Middle childhood (6 – 9 years old)

This is a stage at which assault is at its peak. Assault may be from fellow siblings as well as bullying which may be physical or emotional. Some siblings also tease one another in a hurtful manner leading to violence.

Preteen and early adolescence (10 – 13 years old)

This is a stage whereby children face victimization through physical assault which can be in form of bullying or sexual harassment or by use of a weapon. They may also witness parental assault or intimacy between partners thus resulting in inter-parental violence.

Later adolescence (14 – 17 years old)

In this stage, there is a high risk of physical abuse, sexual assault or harassment, misunderstandings during courtship that may lead to dating violence, and maltreatments (example, psychological or emotional abuse, neglecting the child, and interferences in cases that deal with custodianship). During this stage, children are also exposed to various things like shootings or bombing attacks that might be fatal.

Effects of Violence Exposure to Children

Children of all ages are often exposed to four main types of violence namely; community violence, school violence, domestic violence, and media violence. Infants together with toddlers who are exposed to violence show excessive emotional distress, irritability, disturbances of sleep, phobia of being alone, childish behavior, interference of infant’s normal trust development which later leads to the development of independence (Finkelhor, 2009, p.1). Symptoms of infants and toddlers are related to posttraumatic stress in adults being including evasion, increased arousal, and freezing of responsiveness.

School-age children exposed to violence (Vuong, 2009, p.1) from the community have symptoms of depression, hyper behaviors, and anxiety. As for preschooler children, exposure to violence may cause them to have a problem while sleeping, have a poor rapport with others, and lack concentration due to intrusive thoughts. Witnessing family assaults makes school-age children have fierceness, withdrawal, negligence, and nervousness. To add to that, general functioning, social fitness, attitude, and presentation in school are negatively affected as a result making a child develop vices that will affect him at a later stage.

Violence from media acts like a time bomb to school-age children. This is because children in this age group are in serious need of a role model and may end up aping whatever they view via media even if it is fictional. If the children view violent programs, when growing up, they may end up engaging themselves in serious criminal behavior since their senses will have been overwhelmed.

Lastly, adolescents who are exposed to violence, especially community violence, since they were born to possess a high degree of hostility, school problem, anxiety, acting out, behavioral problems, and vengeance-seeking (Vuong, 2009, p.1).


From this research, it is evident that violence does exist at a higher percentage in urban areas than in rural areas. It further shows that, it can be repetitive from childhood to adulthood and that exposure to such violence early in childhood can lead to long-term effects. However, this cycle can be broken by having preventive measures such as having protection places like churches, schools, and community centers that offer emotional support that help the children cope with trauma. In addition, having a caring, positive, and understanding adult especially a parent enhances social development in children exposed to violence even during hard times.

Reference List

Finkelhor, D. etal (2009). Children exposure to violence. Web.

Kulig, J.C. etal (2006). Violence in rural communities. Web.

Vuong, L. etal (2009). Children exposed to violence. Web.

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