Violence, Abuse, Stress and Child Development
Violence, Abuse, Stress and Child Development
The brain of a developing child is a miracle. The amount of information it can absorb, process, and learn in the first few years of life is truly amazing.
The sheer number of words spoken directly to a child has a direct correlation to the size of her vocabulary upon entering school. That same miraculous brain of a child can be impacted negatively when exposed to trauma and violence during the early years of development.
When a child is subjected to violence—whether it is child abuse, witnessing domestic violence, or bullying at school—cortisol, a stress hormone, floods the brain and can lead to “toxic stress.” This stress reaction interferes with a child’s brain development, including his ability to learn how to regulate emotions.

The causes of child abuse are complex. A certain percentage of child abuse and neglect occurs due to ineffective parenting skills and lack of knowledge regarding child development. In these cases, evidence-based parenting education programs, such as Parents as Teachers, can help increase the skills of parents. Increasing the access to these programs would be one means of preventing at least a portion of child abuse.

Dean Olson
President & CEO
The Family Conservancy
Find parenting resources here.
View this letter in the June 2, Kansas City Star.