NVAA 2000 Text

Chapter 11 Supplement Child Victimization

Statistical Overview

Significant Federal Legislation

The Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment Act of 1998 addresses protection for children from sexual predators and child pornography and prevention of sexual abuse. It prohibits the transfer of obscene material to minors, and increases penalties for offenses against children and for repeat offenders. Furthermore, the Act amends the Child Abuse Act of 1990 by requiring online service providers to report evidence of child pornography offenses to law enforcement agencies. (Public Law 105-314: The Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment Act of 1998, October 30, 1998.)

The Missing, Exploited, and Runaway Children Protection Act of 1999 amends the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to include findings that it is the responsibility of the federal government to:

The Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act and Jennifer's Law signed into law on March 10, 2000, modifies the parameters of certain federal grant programs to: increase funds available for improved enforcement of child abuse and neglect laws; promote programs for improved child abuse and neglect prevention; establish cooperative programs between law enforcement and media organizations to collect, record, retain, and disseminate information useful in the identification and apprehension of suspected criminal offenders; and authorize grant awards to enable states to improve the reporting of unidentified and missing persons. (Public Law No: 106-177: Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act and Jennifer's Law, March 10, 2000.)

State Legislation

"Cassie's Law," signed on April 3, 2000, in Idaho, amends existing domestic violence laws to include acts of violence in a dating relationship against a minor child by a person with whom the child is having a dating (social relationship of a romantic nature) relationship. The law specifies that a custodial or non-custodial parent or guardian of a minor child may file a petition for a dating violence restraining order to protect the minor child from the abuser. (SB# 1523aaH, State of Idaho, April 3, 2000.)

Some states are modifying laws to assist child witnesses of crime and awarding them crime victim compensation. For example, the California State Board of Control (SBOC) has recently expanded the definitions of victims of crime so that children who witness an act of domestic violence are now presumed to have sustained injury and are eligible for a higher level of Crime Victims Restitution. (Government Code #13960 (B) (3) Chapter 584 Statutes of 1999 (California Assembly Bill 606) January 1, 2000.)

Significant Research


Child victims/witnesses of unexpected violent crime resulting in the possible injury of one person by another are likely to suffer PTSD. Current research suggests that the psychological traumatic disability that can result from an actual or possible criminal assault can be seriously debilitating and may entitle the child victim to compensation and personal injury claims (Miller 1999).

Child victims are particularly vulnerable to PTSD. One recent study analyzed startle reflexes in school-age children suffering from PTSD after witnessing a shooting, and found that their physiological startle patterns regressed such that the responses of a ten-year-old child resembled those of a five-year-old. The affected children overreacted to environmental cues as if their "danger-detection system" were permanently engaged. Preliminary experimental data suggests that childhood traumatization impairs "normal neuron-to-neuron synaptic development in the cerebral cortex of the brain's frontal lobe leading to deficits in attention, planning, reasoning, and behavior control" (Ibid.).


Following a two-year study of violence and children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that pediatricians integrate violence prevention guidelines into routine clinical practice. AAP proposes that pediatricians take a role in preventing and managing violence in four areas:

Promising Practices

Chapter 11 Supplement References

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). January 1999. "New AAP Policy Addresses Violence and Children," press release. Pediatrics. Elf Grove, IL: Author.

Connelly, H. June 1999. "Children Exposed to Violence: Criminal Justice Resources." Office for Victims of Crime Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime.

McDonald, L., and H. Frey. November 1999. "Families and Schools Together, Relationship Building." Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Miller, L. 1999. "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Child Victims of Crime: Making the Case for Psychological Injury." Victim Advocate 1 (1).

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). March 2000. "Baby Kidnappings From Hospitals Decrease to Zero." The Frontline XXXX. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs.

Shalala, D. 10 April 2000. HHS Reports New Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics. Washington DC: Administration for Children and Families, The Department of Health and Human Resources.

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2000 NVAA Text
Chapter 11
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