Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey

October 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

David Finkelhor, Heather Turner, Richard Ormrod, Sherry Hamby, and Kristen Kracke….

The survey confirms that most of our society’s children are exposed to violence in their daily lives. More than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly (i.e., as a witness to a violent act; by learning of a violent act against a family member, neighbor, or close friend; or from a threat against their home or school) (for full details on these and other statistics cited in this Bulletin, see Finkelhor et al., 2009). Nearly one-half of the children and adolescents surveyed (46.3 percent) were assaulted at least once in the past year, and more than 1 in 10 (10.2 percent) were injured in an assault; 1 in 4 (24.6 percent) were victims of robbery, vandalism, or theft; 1 in 10 (10.2 percent) suffered from child maltreatment (including physical and emotional abuse, neglect, or a family abduction); and 1 in 16 (6.1 percent) were victimized sexually.

More than 1 in 4 (25.3 percent) witnessed a violent act and nearly 1 in 10 (9.8 percent) saw one family member assault another. Multiple victimizations were common: more than one-third (38.7 percent) experienced 2 or more direct victimizations in the previous year, more than 1 in 10 (10.9 percent) experienced 5 or more direct victimizations in the previous year, and more than 1 in 75 (1.4 percent) experienced 10 or more direct victimizations in the previous year.

Reports of lifetime exposure to violence were generally about one-third to one-half higher than reports of past-year exposure, although the difference tended to be greater for less frequent and more severe types of victimization. (For example, more than three times as many respondents reported being victims of a kidnapping over their lifetimes as did in the past year.) Nearly seven in eight children (86.6 percent) who reported being exposed to violence during their lifetimes also reported being exposed to violence within the past year, which indicated that these children were at ongoing risk of violent victimization. The reports of lifetime exposure also indicate how certain types of exposure change and accumulate as a child grows up; nearly one in five girls ages 14 to 17 (18.7 percent) had been the victim of a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, and more than one-third of all 14- to 17-year-olds had seen a parent assaulted. http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/227744.pdf

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