Columbia University specialist points out the consequence of violence in child development

Professor Cristiane Duarte, of the Children and Teenagers Psychology Division of Columbia University (USA), studies the impact that violence has on children and teenagers development. According to her, boys and girls who are submitted to adverse conditions, such as violence, have a shorter life expectancy. “While the life expectancy of those who don’t go through adverse conditions is 80 years old, children who do have a life expectancy of 60 years old,” she explained during a lecture in the second edition of the Child Sexual Exploitation Forum held by the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. Furthermore, their brain development is affected and they are more vulnerable to health and behavioral problems, such as obesity, depression, alcoholism, and engaging in cigarettes and drugs.

“A study done with Romanian children who were war victims showed that when they were inserted in a high quality familiar environment, in terms of brain connections, they were able to develop in a way that was almost the same as children who hadn’t undergone adverse events. However, this insertion happened before they completed two years of age. This shows that the care during infancy is fundamental to guarantee healthy development, showing us a path when considering of small children who have been victims of violence,” she pointed out.

Ety Cristina Forte Carneiro, Pequeno Príncipe’s executive director, points out the importance of care during infancy. “Love and positive experiences during this phase directly reflect in brain plasticity. They are able to develop skills and decrease marginalization, school drop-out, drug behaviors, teen pregnancy and underemployment, providing ample development for the child,” she concluded.

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