In October 2009, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“OJJDP”), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, released the results of the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (“NatSCEV”), a comprehensive nationwide survey of the incidence and prevalence of children’s exposure to violence in the United States. NatSCEV measured children’s exposure to violence in their homes, schools, and communities, as well as across age levels. The survey includes data about different types of direct violence experienced by children, including assaults, assaults with weapons, sexual victimization, maltreatment and dating violence, as well as their exposure to violence as witnesses to assault within their families and communities.
The results of the survey are troubling. More than 60% of children surveyed had been exposed to violence in the last year, and nearly 40% of children surveyed had directly experienced violence in some form within the previous year. Based on the survey results, the OJJDP concludes that violence is a common part of our children’s lives and its incidence is on the rise. The OJJDP calls for a coordinated policy effort to identify and serve children at risk for direct and indirect exposure to violence. Schools are urged to partner with first responders such as police, ER personnel, social workers, and the juvenile justice system to support such at risk children. More research and more effective assessment tools are needed to better understand the social and educational impacts of children’s’ exposure to violence. To provide resources and support to all sectors concerning this issue, the OJJDP launched the the Safe Start Initiative, to broaden the knowledge of and promote community investment in evidence-based strategies for reducing the impact of children’s exposure to violence.
A copy of the summary of the NatSCEV results can be found by clicking here.
Additional resources for addressing issues related to children’s’ exposure to violence can be found at: safestartcenter.org.