ChildrenThriveInviteCropLast Wednesday I attended the Children Thrive in Violence-Free Lives: Building Community Prevention Conference hosted by Kosair Charities, The Children Exposed to Violence Collective Impact Initiative, and the Face It® Movement to end child abuse. The conference focused on the impacts of children’s exposure to violence and how it can be addressed in our community.  Others in attendance included community leaders and professionals that work to prevent and intervene in child abuse and family violence. There was an incredible representation of members from the community who have devoted their careers to improving the lives of children and families. Annie Lyles from the Prevention Institute facilitated the attendees throughout the day.

Children’s exposure to violence, whether experienced or witnessed, can cause serious physical, mental, and emotional harm and can impact children into adulthood. Studies show that nearly 60 percent of children are exposed to violence directly (as a victim) or indirectly (as a witness).

It really stuck with me that research shows if children experience one form of violence (child abuse, intimate partner violence, community violence), they are more likely to experience or engage in violent behavior in the future. This also relates to recent research around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) events like abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction experienced in the first 18 years of life. ACEs are associated with short-term and significant long-term negative health outcomes.

Ms. Lyles inspired the group by giving example after example of ways communities across the country have addressed violence, all unique to their community’s needs and strengths. We know as practitioners and community leaders that one size does not fit all, and we need to identify and implement solutions that fit our own needs and context.

Preventing violence, and at the same time alleviating its effects, seems like an insurmountable task that can’t possibly be accomplished by one group, or one intervention, because it can’t. It is going to take law enforcement, professionals, community leaders, and families working together to get to the root of the issue and stop violence from deepening, while encouraging compassion and connectedness to grow.

Together we discussed several ideas to address children’s exposure to violence and the challenges ahead. We didn’t solve all of the issues faced by Louisville’s children and families that day, but we did learn successful strategies and we discussed solutions, together.

Want to know more about ways you can prevent violence? Click here.