Each year, children's counselors at A Safe Place help nearly 400 child witnesses of domestic violence learn to deal with feelings of fear and confusion, guilt and shame.
It is vital for these youngest of survivors to be able to deal with these strong emotions and to learn new and healthy ways of communicating and relating to others. If left unchallenged and uninterrupted, the dangerous lessons children have observed may be repeated as they grow into adulthood, continuing the cycle of violence for yet another generation.
Children's counselors at A Safe Place work with both residential and nonresidential children in a variety of settings. They encourage the children to acknowledge and express their feelings. Directed activities let the children practice critical new ways of communicating and relating to others.
One-on-one sessions with our children's counselors focus on issues of loneliness, confusion, fear, anger and guilt. Counselors help the children acknowledge their experiences and recognize that they were not to blame for the violence of adults. Strengthening a child's self-esteem is a vital component of this work.
Weekly gatherings are held for preschool children, school-age children, and adolescents. Through art and play activities, children begin to recognize and to express their feelings and to develop age-appropriate social skills. Group activities provide opportunities to practice relating to others without resorting to aggression or coercion. Counselors and volunteers lead family field trips to zoos, parks, museums and other places where newly-learned communication skills can be exercised and healthy mother-child interaction is fostered.
A Safe Place consults with other agencies and within the legal and educational systems on behalf of children. The agency's role is to offer emotional support and to protect the child's rights and interests. In addition, counselors are trained to detect signs of direct child abuse or sexual assault, in which case appropriate referrals are made. Children's counselors work with each mother on an individual basis, teaching and modeling parenting skills when needed and providing information on child development and the effects of abuse on children.
If you would like more information about A Safe Place's children's services and the other domestic violence programs we provide, please call us at 847-249-4450 or email us at email@example.com