Trends in Childhood Violence and Abuse Exposure

Objective: To assess trends in children’s exposure to abuse, violence, and crime victimizations. Design: An analysis based on a comparison of 2 crosssectional national telephone surveys using identical questions conducted in 2003 and 2008. Setting: Telephone interview. Participants: Experiences of children aged 2 to 17 years (2030 children in 2003 and 4046 children in 2008) were assessed through interviewswith their caretakers and the children themselves. Outcome Measure: Responses to the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire. Results – Several types of child victimization were reported significantly less often in 2008 than in 2003: physical assaults, sexual assaults, and peer and sibling victimizations, including physical bullying. There were also significant declines in psychological and emotional abuse by caregivers, exposure to community violence, and the crime of theft. Physical abuse and neglect by caregivers did not decline, and witnessing the abuse of a sibling increased. Conclusion – The declines apparent in this analysis parallel evidence from other sources, including police data, child welfare data, and the National Crime Victimization Survey, suggesting reductions in various types of childhood victimization in recent years.

Publication Date

March 2010

Publication Name

Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine.


David Finkelhor, PhD
Heather Turner, PhD
Richard Ormrod, PhD
Sherry L. Hamby, PhD