Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, recently discussed the impact of violence on children, comparing its effects to problems faced by soldiers returning from war. He noted, “For every soldier returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with symptoms of depression or PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], there are around 10 children in the United States who are traumatized by exposure to family violence, sexual abuse, neglect and assault, with consequences comparable to those of adult exposure to war-zone violence.” Many abused children, if not properly cared for, will exhibit behavioral and psychological problems. Dr. Bessel expressed concern that funding from such treatment might be withdrawn: “Untreated, traumatized children become failing adults who populate our jails and overwhelm our human services agencies. Cutting the development of effective treatments will produce many years of increasing costs and unquantifiable human misery.”

(B. van der Kolk, “Post-Traumatic Childhood,” New York Times, May 10, 2011). See Mental Illness and the Death Penalty.