This paper reports on the results of a new method for assessing the exposure of urban youth to violence.
This research effort was part of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, which is a long-range study of the determinants of antisocial behavior, delinquency and crime, and substance abuse. A new measurement tool covers multiple aspects of violence. It includes witnessing violence as well as experiencing violence, covers a range from less serious to more serious events, and also extends to sexual violence. It was used in a pilot test that consisted of interviews with 80 people who are part of the ongoing project. They were asked about their lifetime and recent (past year) exposure to 18 different violent events that they had either witnessed or personally experienced. The findings revealed a wide range of exposure to violence, from 88 percent who said they had seen someone hit during their lifetime to the 3 percent who had been sexually assaulted during the past year. Violent victimization in this sample of urban youth was also common, with 8 percent reporting that in the past year they were shot at, 15 percent saying they were attacked with a weapon, and 31 percent saying they were hit; one in seven (14 percent) had been sexually assaulted during his/her lifetime. Data are also reported on patterns of exposure to violence and neighborhood violence. The paper concludes with a discussion of the expanded use of the instrument.
Date Published: November 1, 1996