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Children Exposed to Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2009
4 pages
After reporting on the prevalence, risk factors and adverse outcomes for children and youth exposed to violence, this paper recommends practice measures for treating such children and youth.
A study of a national sample of American children found that 60 percent were exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities. Close to 40 percent were direct victims of two or more violent acts, and 1 in 10 were victims of violence five or more times. Factors that increase children's risk of being exposed to violence include age (older children); gender (boys); race and ethnicity (Black and Native-American); family structure (single parent); family problem alcohol/drug use; intimate partner violence; peer delinquency; and prior victimization. Adverse outcomes for children and youth exposed to violence pertain to psychological health, physical health, academic difficulties, behavioral problems, and delinquency and offending. Research has shown that effective treatment of children and youth exposed to violence includes engaging and intervening with both the parent and the child; combining home-based and center-based approaches; a combination of individual, group, family, advocacy, and case management; parent training; and cooperation among agencies serving children and families. Ways to facilitate these treatment measures include common measures and definitions for both research and practice, further development of screening and risk-assessment tools, more focused attention to victims exposed to multiple forms of violence, and additional training and cross-training for disciplines that interact with children exposed to violence. 37 references