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Article |

Children's Exposure to Violence in an Urban Setting

Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH; Joseph A. DiCara, MD, MPH; Susan LeBailly, PhD; Katherine Kaufer Christoffel, MD, MPH
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151(5):502-504. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1997.02170420072012.
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Objective:  To assess the exposure to violence of a representative sample of children living in an inner-city public housing development.

Design:  Self-report survey.

Setting:  Chicago public housing development that covers 4 census tracts; population, 95% African American, 75% below the poverty level.

Participants:  One hundred forty-six African American youth, aged 7 through 13 years, completed the survey; 53% were male; mean and median ages, 11 years. Seventy-two children (case subjects) are involved in a community-based health and recreation program. They completed the survey prior to participating in a peer-mentoring violence prevention curriculum. The other 74 children (control subjects) were recruited by a community member going door to door. Control subjects were matched to case subjects for age, sex, and census tract.

Results:  The case and control subjects were similar in their exposure to violence and so were grouped for analysis. Of the 146 children, 42% had seen someone shot and 37% had seen someone stabbed; 21% lived with someone who had been shot and 16% lived with someone who had been stabbed. Forty-seven percent of the girls and 55% of the boys had witnessed violence (P>.25). Almost all subjects (90%) felt safe at home. Two thirds (65%) of the children were not afraid to play outside, but almost half (43%) worried about getting hurt at school.

Conclusions:  These data, which describe a representative sample of children from an inner-city housing project, confirm the results from older clinic- and school-based convenience samples. In this low-income community, children are frequently exposed to deadly violence. In contrast with other reports, girls here are not spared.Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1997;151:502-504

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