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Children Exposed to Violence ImageSpecial Feature: Children Exposed to Violence

Children may be witnesses to violence within their own homes, in schools, or elsewhere in their communities. Results from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), which was conducted between January and May 2008, showed that more than 60% 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) (Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey, 2009).

Research suggests that witnessing violence can have detrimental effects similar to being a direct victim of violence (America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well Being, 2013, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention-Sponsored, July 2013). While there may not always be clear physical signs of exposure to violence, such as bruises and cuts, children often suffer from invisible wounds that affect them emotionally or psychologically (Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children's Exposure to Violence-A Guide for Families, 2009). Children who witness or experience violence may subsequently suffer symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder or depression that can, in turn, lead to problems in educational attainment and psychological development (Intervention to Lessen the Effects of Violence Among Urban School Children, 2008).

To learn more about this topic and what can be done to help youths who may be exposed to violence, please select a page from the listing below or from the box at the right with the "Children Exposed to Violence" heading: