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Understanding Children Exposed to Violence: Toward an Integration of Overlapping Fields

NCJ Number
Journal of Interpersonal Violence Volume: 18 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 356-376
Date Published
April 2003
21 pages

This article examines and provides suggestions concerning theory, methods, and professional integration related to promoting more integration of the field of childhood violence.


Over the last two decades there has been an explosion in research concerning the degree to which children are victims of violence, their witnessing violence against others, and the immediate and long-term impact of these experiences. Within this body of research, various forms of childhood victimization have been linked, at least statistically, to a multitude of negative outcomes, such as substance abuse and delinquent behavior. Experiencing violence in childhood is seen as a significant risk factor for a great variety of human problems that can occur in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. However, when assessing this research/literature as a whole, a relatively small proportion of studies concerned with childhood violence has assessed participants for exposure to multiple forms of violence, multiple incidents of the same type of violence, or exposure to potentially stressful or traumatic events other then violence. There has been an over-reliance on relatively simple, single violence type, criterion group comparisons. The way studies and practice have been developed over time has made it difficult to understand the totality of children’s experience with violence in a comprehensive manner. When different forms of violence are not assessed in a comprehensive manner, discerning interactions, cumulative effects, and complex pathways to specific outcomes becomes very difficult. It is implied through the data presented that many fields involved in child violence may be studying the same 20 percent of children who have multiple problems, and drawing their own isolated conclusions. Creative designs will have to be utilized to carryout more comprehensive inquiries, as well as sophisticated approaches that will require collaboration, cooperation, and partnership across the current professional boundaries. References

Date Published: April 1, 2003