Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse: Results From the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence | Adolescent Medicine | JAMA Pediatrics | JAMA Network
[Skip to Navigation]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. About CECANF. 2014. Accessed May 12, 2015.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Ending Violence Against Children: Six Strategies for Action. New York, NY: United Nations Child Protection Section; 2014. Accessed May 11, 2015.
Gilbert  R, Fluke  J, O’Donnell  M,  et al.  Child maltreatment: variation in trends and policies in six developed countries.  Lancet. 2012;379(9817):758-772.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Leventhal  JM, Gaither  JR.  Incidence of serious injuries due to physical abuse in the United States: 1997 to 2009.  Pediatrics. 2012;130(5):e847-e852. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-0922.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Wood  JN, Medina  SP, Feudtner  C,  et al.  Local macroeconomic trends and hospital admissions for child abuse, 2000-2009.  Pediatrics. 2012;130(2):e358-e364. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-3755.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Sedlak  AJ, Mettenburg  J, Basena  M,  et al. Fourth National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS–4): Report to Congress. Washington, DC: Administration for Children and Families, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2010.
Phoenix  J, Honda  M. Our children face a bullying epidemic. USA Today. August 28, 2012.
Schoen  S, Schoen  A.  Bullying and harassment in the United States.  Clearing House. 2010;83(2):68-72.Google ScholarCrossref
Finkelhor  D. Trends in Bullying & Peer Victimization. Durham: Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire; 2013.
Petersen AC, Joseph J, Feit M, eds; Committee on Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice for the Next Decade, Phase II; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Law and Justice; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2014:chap 9. Accessed May 13, 2015.
McAuliffe  WE, Geller  S, LaBrie  R, Paletz  S, Fournier  E.  Are telephone surveys suitable for studying substance abuse? cost, administration, coverage and response rate issues.  J Drug Issues. 1998;28(2):455-481.Google Scholar
Finkelhor  D, Turner  HA, Shattuck  A, Hamby  SL.  Violence, crime, and abuse exposure in a national sample of children and youth: an update.  JAMA Pediatr. 2013;167(7):614-621.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Weeks  MF, Kulka  RA, Lessler  JT, Whitmore  RW.  Personal versus telephone surveys for collecting household health data at the local level.  Am J Public Health. 1983;73(12):1389-1394.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Acierno  R, Resnick  H, Kilpatrick  D, Stark-Riemer  W.  Assessing elder victimization: demonstration of a methodology.  Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2003;38(11):644-653.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Pruchno  RA, Hayden  JM.  Interview modality: effects on costs and data quality in a sample of older women.  J Aging Health. 2000;12(1):3-24.Google ScholarCrossref
Bajos  N, Spira  A, Ducot  B, Messiah  A.  Analysis of sexual behavior in France (ACSF): a comparison between two modes of investigation: telephone survey and face-to-face survey.  AIDS. 1992;6(3):315-323.PubMedGoogle Scholar
Bermack  E.  Effects of telephone & face-to-face communication on rated extent of self-disclosure by female college students.  Psychol Rep. 1989;65(1):259-267.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Czaja  R.  Asking sensitive behavioral questions in telephone interviews.  Int Q Community Health Educ. 1987;8(1):23-32.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Marin  G, Marin  B.  A comparison of three interviewing approaches for studying sensitive topics with Hispanics.  Hisp J Behav Sci. 1989;11(4):330-340.Google ScholarCrossref
Finkelhor  D, Hamby  SL, Ormrod  RK, Turner  HA.  The JVQ: reliability, validity, and national norms.  Child Abuse Negl. 2005;29(4):383-412.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Finkelhor  D, Ormrod  RK, Turner  HA, Hamby  SL.  Measuring poly-victimization using the JVQ.  Child Abuse Negl. 2005;29(11):1297-1312.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Hamby  SL, Finkelhor  D, Ormrod  RK, Turner  HA. The Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire (JVQ): Administration and Scoring Manual. Durham: Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire; 2004.
Zhang  J, Yu  KF.  What’s the relative risk? A method of correcting the odds ratio in cohort studies of common outcomes.  JAMA. 1998;280(19):1690-1691.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
American Association for Public Opinion Research. Standard definitions: final disposition of case codes and outcome rates for surveys. Revised 2011. Accessed May 20, 2015.
Peress  M.  Correcting for survey nonresponse using variable response propensity.  J Am Stat Assoc. 2010;105(492):1418-1430.Google ScholarCrossref
Gladden  R, Vivolo-Kantor  A, Hamburger  M, Lumpkin  C.  Bullying Surveillance Among Youths: Uniform Definitions for Public Health and Recommended Data Elements, Version 1.0. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Depart of Education; 2014.
Baum  K. Juvenile Victimization and Offending, 1993-2003. Washington, DC: Office of Justice Programs, US Dept of Justice; 2005. NCJ 209468.
Kilpatrick  DG, Saunders  BE, Smith  DW. Youth Victimization: Prevalence & Implications. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, US Dept of Justice; 2003. NCJ 194972.
Straus  MA, Hamby  SL, Finkelhor  D, Moore  DW, Runyan  D.  Identification of child maltreatment with the parent-child Conflict Tactics Scales: development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents [published correction appears in Child Abuse Negl. 1998;22(11):1177].  Child Abuse Negl. 1998;22(4):249-270.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Theodore  AD, Chang  JJ, Runyan  DK, Hunter  WM, Bangdiwala  SI, Agans  R.  Epidemiologic features of the physical and sexual maltreatment of children in the Carolinas.  Pediatrics. 2005;115(3):e331-e337. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-1033.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Finkelhor  D, Ormrod  RK, Turner  HA.  Poly-victimization: a neglected component in child victimization.  Child Abuse Negl. 2007;31(1):7-26.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Turner  HA, Finkelhor  D, Ormrod  R.  Poly-victimization in a national sample of children and youth.  Am J Prev Med. 2010;38(3):323-330.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
Peytchev  A, Baxter  RK, Carley-Baxter  LR.  Not all survey effort is equal: reduction of nonresponse bias and nonresponse error.  Public Opin Q. 2009:nfp037. doi:10.1093/poq/nfp037.Google Scholar
Biemer  PP, Peytchev  A.  Census geocoding for nonresponse bias evaluation in telephone surveys: an assessment of the error properties.  Public Opin Q. 2012;76(3):432-452.Google ScholarCrossref
Pew Research Center.  Assessing the Representativeness of Public Opinion Surveys. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center; 2012.
Curtin  R, Presser  S, Singer  E.  Changes in telephone survey nonresponse over the past quarter century.  Public Opin Q. 2005;69:87-98.Google ScholarCrossref
Original Investigation
August 2015

Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse: Results From the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence

Author Affiliations
  • 1Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham
  • 2Department of Psychology, Sewanee–The University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(8):746-754. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.0676

Importance  It is important to estimate the burden of and trends for violence, crime, and abuse in the lives of children.

Objective  To provide health care professionals, policy makers, and parents with current estimates of exposure to violence, crime, and abuse across childhood and at different developmental stages.

Design, Setting, and Participants  The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) includes a representative sample of US telephone numbers from August 28, 2013, to April 30, 2014. Via telephone interviews, information was obtained on 4000 children 0 to 17 years old, with information about exposure to violence, crime, and abuse provided by youth 10 to 17 years old and by caregivers for children 0 to 9 years old.

Main Outcome and Measure  Exposure to violence, crime, and abuse using the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire.

Results  In total, 37.3% of youth experienced a physical assault in the study year, and 9.3% of youth experienced an assault-related injury. Two percent of girls experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse in the study year, while the rate was 4.6% for girls 14 to 17 years old. Overall, 15.2% of children and youth experienced maltreatment by a caregiver, including 5.0% who experienced physical abuse. In total, 5.8% witnessed an assault between parents. Only 2 significant rate changes could be detected compared with the last survey in 2011, namely, declines in past-year exposure to dating violence and lifetime exposure to household theft.

Conclusions and Relevance  Children and youth are exposed to violence, abuse, and crime in varied and extensive ways, which justifies continued monitoring and prevention efforts.