Children & Violence
Current estimates indicate that as many as 10 million children per year may witness or be victims of violence in their homes1 or that children in communities across the United States are witness to violence at alarmingly high rates. A public health problem of tremendous proportions, childhood exposure to violence (CEV) has a devastating impact on children’s development, affecting emotional growth, cognitive development, physical health and school performance. CEV has been significantly linked with increased depression, anxiety, anger, and alcohol and drug abuse, and with decreased academic achievement.
Without intervention, children exposed to violence may suffer long-term repercussions of their exposure, including diminished health and well-being. The children, who experience violence, either as victims or as witnesses, are also at increased risk of becoming violent themselves. These children are significantly more likely to have involvement with the juvenile justice system, committing crimes at younger ages and nearly twice as often as their peers who have not been similarly exposed to violence.
A decade ago, the CEV knowledge base was limited. In response to emerging statistics and research on the prevalence and impact of children’s exposure to violence, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) worked with Federal partners in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Office of Justice Programs and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop the Safe Start Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to prevent and reduce the impact of family and community violence on young children (primarily from birth to age 6) and their families.
Today, while there is much research still to be done, there is a growing professional and public awareness of the impact of violence exposure on the developing child. The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence offers opportunities for individuals and service providers to learn more about CEV, and about programs and activities that address the problem. NCEEV provides training and technical assistance to professionals and community members who are actively engaged in this work, as well as statistics, research information, best practices documents, summaries of publications available online, and assistance in locating additional resources. Contact us for more information.
1Edelson, J. (1999). Children’s
witnessing of adult domestic violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence,