Last night, two cars collided right before my eyes.

I was stopped, waiting for the light to turn green, when a speeding and reckless driver plowed into the side of another car. Almost as if it was a slow-motion movie, my daughter and I gasped as the cars made contact. Glass shattered and metal crunched as the cars ground to a halt.

One car was nearly pushed into our lane. It missed us by inches. My Maria started to shake and cry.

As I called 911, the occupants of both cars climbed out. Fortunately, everyone seemed OK.

The reckless driver was a young woman, who was driving with a young man and three young children. The three girls — all toddlers — were identically dressed in pink sweatsuits and matching hairstyles.

How could someone — driving a car full of joy, youth and promise — be so thoughtless?

These little girls come to mind today as I read about new research from the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry proving that witnessing abuse and violence can actually alter a someone’s DNA. Young children exposed to repeated violence such as domestic abuse and verbal harassment display shortened strands of DNA. To summarize: The stress ages them beyond their years.

Last night the 911 dispatcher told me I could leave the scene, that help was on its way. It was a relief to drive away from the smell of smoke and the sight of those badly disfigured vehicles.

But I can’t stop thinking about the girls, all pink and ponytails, bearing witness to the wreckage.

Kathy Mangold
Vistelar Group