By Anne Collier
This may seem a little off-topic, as it’s not fundamentally about technology, but social media can be a tool in the healing process. Let me explain. More than 5 million US children (275 million worldwide) are dealing with domestic violence – what UNICEF calls “one of the most damaging unaddressed human rights violations in the world today” – and 40 million US adults were once children who lived with it (more than half of all kids experiencing it are being raised by a parent who grew up with it). This is according to Children of Domestic Violence, a nonprofit organization aimed at addressing the problem. But this post and their work aren’t about reading awareness-raising data. They’re about how the data shows all of us adults can choose to help more of those children become as strong and resilient as some children of domestic violence do grow up to be. Here’s why:
“Groundbreaking research … shows that the common factor in the lives of resilient children is the presence of a caring adult able to deliver key messages during the formative stages of childhood and adolescence” – messages that counter beliefs like “It was my fault,” “I should’ve been able to stop it,” “I’m unlovable and unworthy of love,” “Good things don’t happen to people like me.” They’re beliefs that children usually aren’t developmentally equipped to counter themselves. So, working with people like social welfare professor Jeffrey Edleson at University of California, Berkeley, CDV developed the Change a Life Program that can be clicked to right from this page – so that, instead of not knowing what to say or do, adults in schools and communities can help children believe in themselves. The “program” is simple and well-presented, nothing time-consuming, but if you do nothing else watch the 2-min. video on that page and consider the hope a child might feel when he or she hears messages like: “It’s not your fault,” “You have had to overcome obstacles that other kids have never had,” “It’s not your job to stop it,” “You have a special strength inside you,” “I believe you,” and “I hear you.” Those messages can go through any channel, a telephone, a letter, Skype video, a text, a social network site, whatever – but probably best in a way that the child can see the kindness in your eyes.