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Facts about Children and Violence

A 2009 DOJ study showed that more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year either directly or indirectly.  Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence.

Some findings from the study:

Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorders; fail or have difficulty in school; and become delinquent and engage in criminal behavior.

Sixty percent of American children were exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities.

Almost 40 percent of American children were direct victims of two or more violent acts, and one in ten were victims of violence five or more times.

Children are more likely to be exposed to violence and crime than adults.

Almost one in ten American children saw one family member assault another family member, and more than 25 percent had been exposed to family violence during their life.

A child’s exposure to one type of violence increases the likelihood that the child will be exposed to other types of violence and exposed multiple times.

*Finkelhor, D., Turner, H., Ormrod, R., Hamby, S., and Kracke, K. 2009. Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey. Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.