Violence, Abuse, and Crime Exposure in a National Sample of Children and Youth

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research was to obtain national estimates of exposure to the full spectrum of the childhood violence, abuse, and crime victimizations relevant to both clinical practice and public-policy approaches to the problem.

METHODS: The study was based on a cross-sectional national telephone survey that involved a target sample of 4549 children aged 0 to 17 years. RESULTS: A clear majority (60.6%) of the children and youth in this nationally representative sample had experienced at least 1 direct or witnessed victimization in the previous year. Almost half (46.3%) had experienced a physical assault in the study year, 1 in 4 (24.6%) had experienced a property offense, 1 in 10 (10.2%) had experienced a form of child maltreatment, 6.1% had experienced a sexual victimization, and more than 1 in 4 (25.3%) had been a witness to violence or experienced another form of indirect victimization in the year, including 9.8% who had witnessed an intrafamily assault. One in 10 (10.2%) had experienced a victimization-related injury. More than one third (38.7%) had been exposed to 2 or more direct victimizations, 10.9% had 5 or more, and 2.4% had 10 or more during the study year.

CONCLUSIONS: The scope and diversity of child exposure to victimization is not well recognized. Clinicians and researchers need to inquire about a larger spectrum of victimization types to identify multiply victimized children and tailor prevention and interventions to the full range of threats that children face.

Publication Date

November 2009

Publication Name

Pediatrics

Author

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