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Counseling Helps Kids Cope With Violence

School-Based Program Helps Children Suffering From Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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"Living in certain communities in America has been compared to living in a war zone, and I don't think that is much of an exaggeration," clinical psychologist Albert D. Farrell, PhD, tells WebMD.

A professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, Farrell has studied the impact of exposure to violence on high-risk children and adolescents for years. He says it is clear that kids who witness or are victims of violent events are more likely to exhibit violent or aggressive behaviors themselves. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and act out in other ways.

Steven Berkowitz, MD, of the Yale Child Study Center, agrees that intervention is key to helping children cope.

"One of the clearest pathways to delinquency and criminal behavior is early chronic exposure to violence and victimization," he tells WebMD. "One way of dealing with feeling helpless is to become aggressive. Intervention helps children gain some sense of control and perspective on the violence in their lives."

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