Domestic violence strikes hardest at those families where children are at greatest risk. These children are more likely to experience poor social, emotional and cognitive brain development, worse health, punative parenting, and other risks. Family violence adds yet another threat to early childhood development.
Memphis’ rate of domestic violence is the highest in Tennessee. With the current economic crisis, our community’s domestic violence problem has become more urgent than ever. When unemployment goes up, so does domestic violence. The rate of violence in couples experiencing financial strain is over three times higher than the rate among other couples. More family violence, in turn, means more costs to the criminal justice and health care systems.
Interventions like the Children’s Domestic Violence Program of the Exchange Club are making a difference for at-risk children. To protect all children in our community from the effects of domestic violence, we need a variety of high-quality accessible programs. There are several opportunities for improving the existing network of services in Memphis and Shelby County. Home visiting programs and pediatric care providers, for instance, are settings where screening and treatment could be improved by expanding staff education and training. Investment in these and other initiatives can strengthen the safety net for children and families at risk.