Impact on Children

It is very difficult as a parent to see your child suffer. Unfortunately, children are affected by many of the same crimes as adults. Burglary, robbery, assault, harassment, and emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse are some of the more common crimes that impact children. 

There is a lot of variation in how children react to crime depending on the type of crime, where the crime happens, how much the children see and know of what happened, how others around the children react, and what happens in the immediate aftermath of the crime. In general, being a direct victim of crime has a greater impact than being a witness to crime.

After being a victim or witness to crime, your child may:

  • Complain of a tummy aches and/or headaches
  • Have bad dreams
  • Start behaving in ways he or she did when they were younger
  • Show behavioural or personality changes, at home or at school
  • Be afraid something like this will happen again
  • Feel guilty for not preventing the incident from occurring
  • Worry about you or family members when you are not together
  • Be reluctant to venture out, preferring to stay at home
  • Feel a great sense of helplessness and vulnerability
  • Always remember, every child is different. Your child will react in his/her own unique way.

What can I do to help my child?

Children will take their cue from you. Although it is good to tell them that you are affected (if you are) it is better not to talk to them in detail about your own fears, anger, or anxiety. Children need reassurance that this is something that you can cope with. It is important for you to talk about your own reactions in private to a supportive adult so that your children are not further upset by seeing how upset you are.

What you can do to support your child

Understand what it’s like for them

  • Listen to them
  • Talk to them
  • Ask them how they are
  • Reassure them that they are okay
  • Answer their questions
  • Hug and cuddle them when they need it
  • Tell them things will get better, in time
  • Keep everything the same as much as possible, routine is good, set times for homework, chores and bedtime
  • Respond to their needs – leaving the light on, walking them to school, whatever they need to feel secure
  • Be consistent

Look for opportunities to have fun

It is important to help them talk openly about what happened. Asking them and talking to them about how they were affected can reassure them that whatever they are feeling now is okay, and that most people feel affected by such incidents. Some children don’t want to talk about it. That’s fine too. It’s important that you give them the opportunity to talk, and not push them if they don’t. You will be the best judge of this.

It is advisable to let your child’s teacher/school know what is going on and to avail of any support offered by the school, such as counselling.

Get Help Now

The Crime Victims Helpline is a listening and support service for victims of crime in Ireland. We provide time and space for victims to talk about their experiences. We also answer questions about the criminal justice system and help victims understand their rights.

Support Services

If you or a friend or family member has been impacted by crime, there are a number of organization in Ireland who can help.