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Findings From National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence Published

October 8, 2009

On October 7, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs issued the following press release:

Washington—The Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs today announced the availability of “Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey,” published by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey measured the past-year and life-time exposure to violence for children age 17 and younger. The major categories covered in the survey are: conventional crime, child maltreatment, victimization by peers and siblings, sexual victimization, witnessing and indirect victimization, school violence and threats, and Internet victimization.

The survey findings conclude that:

  • more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly.

  • nearly one-half of the children and adolescents surveyed were assaulted at least once in the past year, and more than 1 in 10 were injured as a result.

  • nearly one-quarter of the respondents were the victim of a robbery, vandalism, or theft.

  • one-tenth of respondents were victims of child maltreatment (including physical and emotional abuse, neglect, or a family abduction), and 1 in 16 were victimized sexually.

The research reported in this bulletin suggests further avenues of study into the long-term effects of violence on youth and ways to improve policies to meet the needs of youthful victims of violence. Among the ramifications of the research are the following:

  • Because the survey tracked children's lifetime exposure to violence, researchers can develop more accurate estimates on the total number of children in a certain age group who have been exposed to a particular form of violence.

  • It illustrates more clearly the full extent of exposure and the cumulative effects of multiple exposures to violence and how exposure to one form of violence may make a child more vulnerable to other forms of violence.

  • The findings affirm that efforts should be made to reach across disciplines to identify children who are at risk of exposure to violence, such as witnessing domestic violence, and to coordinate the delivery of services to these children.

  • The study also demonstrates that there is a need for screening and assessment tools to identify children who are suffering emotionally, socially, physically, and developmentally from exposure to violence and would benefit from services and treatment.

  • The research also demonstrates that a more comprehensive, coordinated approach is needed to address the fragmented way in which federal, state, and local authorities presently respond to children who have been exposed to violence.

Resources:

“Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey” is available at ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/publications/PubAbstract.asp?pubi=249751.

Print copies may be ordered online.



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