The Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center

week 17:  this week i'm gonna... comfort the littlest victims of violence

Jessica is a 10-year-old girl who witnessed her father abuse her mother and was the victim of a traumatic assault, which also resulted in the death of one of her family members. Both Jessica and her mother suffered from grief and trauma symptoms that had a negative impact on their relationship. Jessica experienced persistent anxiety, especially when leaving the house to go to school. Her world felt unpredictable and scary. Her mother’s feelings of shame and the family’s cultural beliefs around therapy made it difficult to engage in treatment.

Jessica and her mother found help with the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, who took a sensitive approach and made Jessica’s mother comfortable enough to participate in treatment. After many months, Jessica is now thriving both academically and interpersonally. She and her mother have a stronger emotional bond and are moving forward together.

The Child Witness to Violence Project (CWVP) at Boston Medical Center is a counseling, advocacy, and outreach program that focuses on young children who are the hidden victims of domestic and community violence and other trauma-related events. The project began in 1992 and currently provides therapy to over 150 children and their families each year. In addition, CWVP implements both national and state-focused training for mental health clinicians, health care professionals, police, educators, and many other social service professionals who work with children who have witnessed violence and experienced traumatic grief.

CWVP services include:

  • Trauma-focused therapy for both child and parent
  • Advocacy/intervention to stabilize the environment of the child
  • Case-related consultation to schools and early care and development centers
  • Consultation to clinicians and/or agencies working with young children affected by trauma
  • Training to professionals and parents on a variety of topics related to early childhood trauma, domestic and community violence and intervention

A 2009 comprehensive national study* conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice showed that more than 60% of the children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year either directly or indirectly.  Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorders; fail or have difficulty in school; and become delinquent and engage in criminal behavior.

By tackling this issue and counseling and rehabilitating these young victims, the CWVP is helping to break the cycle of violence. They are also providing much needed love, care, and comfort to children in desperate need.

*Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Ormrod, R., Hamby, S., and Kracke, K. 2009. Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey. Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Notes for this week:

  • April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
  • Our collective givetwig donation will outfit all four clinical offices at the Child Witness to Violence Project with therapeutic books, toys, and games that are used in sessions with caregivers and children.
  • For further information regarding the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, please check out their website.

this week i'm gonna donate to the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center.

please share the givetwig awesomeness!