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Understanding Children's Exposure to Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2009
8 pages
This issue brief presents a framework for understanding children's exposure to violence.
This issue brief, developed by the Safe Start Center, presents a framework for understanding children's exposure to violence. This brief is the first in a series of papers providing research-based information to practitioners working with children and families exposed to violence. According to work by the Safe Start Center, children's exposure to violence is defined as "direct and indirect exposure to violence in the home, school, and community." The brief provides information for practitioners on how to understand children's exposure to violence and how children react along the stress-to-trauma continuum. The brief discusses the role that risk and protective factors have on children's developmental trajectories, and discusses the need for enhancing resilience, decreasing risks, and providing specialized treatment to these children. The brief also identifies a set of barriers that can prevent service providers from working together to assist children exposed to violence. These barriers include lack of agreement on a definition of exposure to violence, poor or insufficient identification of children exposed to violence, lack of valid and reliable screening tools, ineffectiveness of intervention services rendered, and cultural blindness. Lastly, the brief discusses key elements necessary for designing an effective response to working with children exposed to violence. Some of these elements are early detection and identification; promoting community awareness and educating practitioners; developing protocols, policies, and procedures; use of evidence-based interventions; and staff support and supervision. References

Date Published: August 1, 2009