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Letter - Violence takes toll on children

To the editor:

Each year millions of children witness violence in their home or are a direct target of the violence. Domestic violence affects children from every income level, race and religion. Violence takes a severe toll on children; the effects and difficulties may last a lifetime. Some examples are low self-esteem, depression, sleeping problems, behavioral issues and feelings of guilt, powerlessness and isolation. Children are also at higher risk for alcohol and drug use, sexual activity, loneliness, poor social skills, suicide and running away from home.

In 2009 in Minnesota there were at least 10 children younger than the age of 18 who were murdered by a perpetrator who was a father, mother, guardian or household/family member. There were at least eight children left motherless due to their mother's domestic violence murders (Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women Femicide Report 2009).

Domestic violence happens in the neighborhoods we live in and the communities in which we raise our families. Everyone needs to be aware of the issues children face. Some examples of early intervention techniques that can make a difference in the lives of children are:

•Listening to children.

•Providing safety for our children and families. Be aware of any symptoms that may be a sign.

•Educating ourselves and others about the effects of domestic violence on children and families.

•Noticing bruises, fear, extreme quiet, sadness, or children not wanting to go or remain home.

•Reporting suspected child abuse to police.

April's observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month is a great opportunity for our community to unite and keep our children safe. Together, we can make a difference.

For more information about child abuse or crime victim services, contact Someplace Safe at (320) 762-1995.

Stefanie Welle,

domestic abuse advocate, Someplace Safe

Alexandria, MN