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Original Investigation |

Trends in Children’s Exposure to Violence, 2003 to 2011

David Finkelhor, PhD1; Anne Shattuck, MA1; Heather A. Turner, PhD1; Sherry L. Hamby, PhD2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham
2Sewanee: The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee
JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(6):540-546. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.5296.
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Importance  The study suggests that years of public policy designed to reduce the burden of violence and victimization among youths is having some success.

Objective  To identify trends in children’s exposure to violence, crime, and abuse from 2003 through 2011.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Three national telephone surveys of representative samples of children and caregivers from 2003, 2008, and 2011 were compared, all obtained using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire; samples included parents of children 2 to 9 years old and youth 10 to 17 years old.

Exposures  Direct and indirect experiences of violence, abuse, and victimization during the previous year.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Change in rates between 2003 and 2011 and between 2008 and 2011.

Results  Of 50 trends in exposure examined, there were 27 significant declines and no significant increases between 2003 and 2011. Declines were particularly large for assault victimization, bullying, and sexual victimization. There were also significant declines in the perpetration of violence and property crime. For the recession period between 2008 and 2011, there were 11 significant declines and no increases for 50 specific trends examined. Dating violence declined, as did one form of sexual victimization and some forms of indirect exposure.

Conclusions and Relevance  Victimization surveys with general population samples confirm patterns seen in police data and adult surveys. Crime and violence have been declining in the child and youth population as well.

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