The prevalence of violence in our communities, neighborhoods, and homes places children at high risk of exposure.The potential for harm to children exposed to violence is considerable. In the short term, children’s lives are often radically disrupted when their parents, loved ones, or they themselves are harmed. A range of feelings is evoked, including helplessness, hopelessness, fear, and aggression, among others. The long-term effects can be devastating, including difficulties in school, work, and relationships and physical and mental health problems. Children exposed to violence may be revictimized later in life, or they may become victimizers themselves, as studies indicate that children exposed to violence are at greater risk of perpetrating violent acts. Convened by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, the National Summit on Children Exposed to Violence brought experts together to develop a framework for understanding and addressing children’s exposure to violence. This Summary describes that framework, creating an action plan that outlines principles for preventing and reducing the negative impact of the exposure to violence on children. Through understanding the challenges, knowing the facts, constructing effective programs, and working across disciplines, we are taking a significant step toward ensuring a safe start for all children.
John J. Wilson
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention