Kids Who See Violence Young Grow Up to Be Aggressive

And now for another word about violence.  Know the toddler who keeps biting yours?  Or the one who kicks the teacher when he can't get what he wants?

Well, guess what?  A new study has found that "aggression in school-age children may have its origins in children 3 years old and younger who witnessed violence between their mothers and partners," according to a study by Case Western Reserve University, as reported yesterday by

“People may think children that young are passive and unaware, but they pay attention to what’s happening around them,” quotes Megan Holmes, assistant professor of social work at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.

The numbing fact is that between three million and 10 million children each year witness violence in their homes.

While it's long been known that recent exposure to violence has a huge impact, what hasn't been so visible is  the harm it does over time, when it starts in the early years of life.  Researchers looked at the development of social behavior after young children witnessed domestic violence at home. said that Holmes saw no behavioral differences between those who did or did not witness violence between the ages of 3 and 5, but "children exposed to violence increased their aggression when they reached school age. And the more frequently intimate partner violence was witnessed, the more aggressive the behaviors became."

Children never exposed to this type of violence had decreasing levels of aggression over time.

Did Adam Lanza see his father hitting his mother, or vice-versa, in his household?  Could that explain his horrendous, criminal behavior?  We'll never know.  But it's certainly something to think about.  I grew up in a home where beatings were a regular part of family life.  This study apparently only looked at violence between partners. But I'm sure that children exposed to violence themselves may also grow up to be violent.

I swore I would never hit my son, and though I've slipped once or twice, it's been a pat or a slap, never a belt (or a wooden spoon, my mother's favorite weapon).  I realize back in the 50s and 60s, when I was growing up, that was a fairly normal way of life, but it was barbaric then and it's barbaric now.

We could all use less violence in our lives.


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