Witnessing violence can harm children’s health: study

Reuters Apr 21, 2009

Witnessing violence in high-crime urban areas could increase levels a hormone in young children that could cause long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease, researchers said. They found that children who experienced shootings, knife attacks or fights showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as worries, flashbacks and difficulty paying attention. The youngsters also had higher levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol, which can lead to a weaker immune system and other illnesses.

“Our study indicates that important biological effects occur in children living in high-crime neighborhoods,” said Dr Shakira Franco Suglia, of the Harvard School of Public Health.