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The Pervasive nature of Community Violnece.


In one of my behavioral health classes we were petitioned to write about topics that could negatively impact development. Because I am a resident of Philadelphia and because of my background I decided to speak about the community violence and its potential threats to development. There are two notions that can either contribute to the proper development of a child or detract from proper development. They are; risk and protective factors.

  1. Risk factors are classified as biological, psychological, family, community, or cultural characteristics that precede and are associated with higher likelihood of negative outcomes.

  2. Protective factors are classified by actions that lower likelihood of negative factors having impact or larger impacts on and individuals development.

Psychosocial impairment in teens


Our text explains that aggressive behavior will eventually peak in early childhood (129), the repeated exposure to community violence could potentially bypass the process and keep our teens in a constant state of fight or flight activation. According to Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, children who are exposed to violence at an early age have a higher propensity to violence. The exposure impacts the children's neurobiological, physical, emotional, and social development. The development often negatively impacts the child's development and transition or adjustment into adulthood. Symptoms of exposure often include aggression, delinquency, violent crime and child abuse. They also experience mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The article also points out that children will often exhibit multiple symptoms at once.


Young men tend to exhibit more aggressive symptoms whereas, young ladies tend to exhibit more depressive symptoms. Constantly being in this excitable state would make an individual hypersensitive to stimuli, have an increased startle response, problematic regulation, these symptoms could potentially set one up for Mental health problems, distorted cognitive capacities, and problematic behaviors. Living in Philadelphia, I can see how all this can be true statements.


Protective space

Protective spaces are important because they can help children with their psychosocial development, protection from external risk, help with relationship building, and could even help with education. Protective spaces should start at home, then to the community and then on a global scale. Allowing this type of play gives way to the child's ability to express their feelings and gain the self-confidence needed for emotional growth and learn to cooperate and resolve conflicts (134). Community violence erodes the child's cognitive development and puts them in a negative feedback loop.


Barbara Bennet Woodhouse, the author of The Ecology of Childhood, "How our changing world threatens Children’s rights" Her concern seeks to help with policy on a global scale. While researching protective spaces, there seemed to be differing perspectives and approaches on how to create these protective/safe spaces. Some of the research I found would speak about building schools or public spaces whereas others speak about spaces on a global scale on children who are impacted by war.  All protective spaces, from the home, community, country are all concerns that need to be addressed.


Protective Factors 

To add on the definition mentioned above protective factors promote resiliency during the infant and toddler years. A company named FRIENDS defines protective factors as characteristics or conditions that reduce or buffer the effects of risk, stress, or trauma.  According to our text there are a few categories in which Infants, toddlers, and adolescences need in order to give them the best chance for development.  


Below are the categories:

·      Social Support

·      Positive parent

·      Effective Parenting

·      Self esteem

·      Good emotional regulation

·      Intelligence

·      Support for early learning

According to Friends, most interventions are focused on child abuse prevention, and most families at risk do not abuse or neglect their children. Even if this is a true statement the other risk factors are present, poverty, disabilities and trauma. Community violence is pervasive, you can have both protective spaces and positive factors, but they must be strong enough to outweigh risk factors.


From the start of my first book and recounting the abuse I experienced, I realized that my experiences weren't isolated. In fact, I concluded that it was a shared experience. After my research I found it to be true. This is why Nadine Burkes' work is so important, the Child Adverse Experience (ACE) survey is a good survey for parents to take as well as their children. For parents could build awareness of the traumas they hold and hopefully change the trajectory they may be putting their children on. The other thing Burkes brought up was multidisciplinary teams. In the past the multidisciplinary teams, were the community and since the community has deteriorated, we need to bring back the community.

It first starts with wanting something different and then self awareness. Start today by taking the Survey and see how high you score.

(she/her), Ashley Krombach. “Creating Safe Spaces for Youth.” My Good Brain, My Good Brain, 13 Apr. 2023,
“Community Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CVIPI): Overview.” Bureau of Justice Assistance, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.
Digital, Swace. “Resources for Safe Spaces for Children in Humanitarian Settings: Overview.” Save the Children’s Resource Centre, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.
Play as Place: A Safe Space for Young Children to Learn ..., Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.
“Protective Factors.” Friends NRC, 22 Jan. 2024,
“Safe Spaces for Youth.” Youthpower.Org, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.
"Dimensions of Human Behavior: The Changing Life Course by Elizabeth D. Hutchinson. (6th edition).



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