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Children Exposed to Violence


Children are exposed to violence every day in their homes, schools, and communities. Such exposure can cause them significant physical, mental, and emotional harm with long-term effects that can last well into adulthood. 

Exposure to violence can limit children's potential and increase their likelihood of becoming involved in the juvenile or criminal justice system. These children are often more likely to develop a substance use disorder; suffer from depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder; and fail to thrive in school, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)-sponsored National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV II) conducted in 2011.

OJJDP provides funding for communities to develop and provide support services for children exposed to violence. Through the Fiscal Year (FY) 19 Comprehensive School-based Approach to Youth Violence and Victimization Prevention, Intervention and Accountability initiative, OJJDP made 9 awards totaling $7,107,594 to address youth violence and victimization in school-based settings. With training and technical assistance from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), sites are implementing evidence-based prevention, intervention, and accountability efforts.

Through the FY 20 Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence, OJJDP made 7 awards totaling $7,106,070 for communities to develop and provide support services for children exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities; and to develop, enhance, and implement violent crime reduction strategies that focus on violent juvenile offenders.

In FY 21 OJJDP will award more than $7 million for communities to develop and provide support services for children exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities.  In addition to supporting program implementation and direct services activities, the initiative will fund a training and technical assistance provider to support the Category 1 project sites.

Raising Awareness

Changing Minds Image

In October 2016, the Justice Department launched Changing Minds, a national campaign that seeks to raise awareness, teach skills, and inspire public action to address children's exposure to violence and the resulting trauma.

OJJDP developed Changing Minds in collaboration with Futures Without Violence, a national health and social justice nonprofit organization; the Ad Council; and Wunderman, the advertising agency.

Changing Minds aims to:

  • Raise awareness about the prevalence, urgency, and impact of children's exposure to violence and the trauma that may result.
  • Change perceptions of adults who interact with children from viewing them as "angry, bad, and withdrawn," to recognizing that they are children who "have been hurt and need our help."
  • Engage and change practices in schools, homes, and communities.
  • Motivate adults who interact with children in schools, communities, and health settings to be caring, concerned, and supportive figures in their lives.

Enhancing Law Enforcement Response

The OJJDP-funded Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Children Exposed to Violence and Childhood Trauma launched in May 2017. The toolkit provides law enforcement professionals with resources to effectively respond to children who have been exposed to violence.

The toolkit was created as part of a cooperative agreement among the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Yale Child Study Center and OJJDP.

Additional Resources

Sexual Exploitation of Children
This section of the OJJDP website features programs, OJJDP-sponsored reports, and OJJDP-funded efforts to combat the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (April 2017)
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime, awarded a grant to Northeastern University's Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice to work with stakeholders in the field to develop the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit (VTT). The VTT is a state-of-the-art repository of nearly 500 tools and resources compiled to assist victim services and first responder agencies and organizations in raising awareness about and addressing the traumatic experiences of other people, known as vicarious trauma. 

Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence (November 2014)
This task force of U.S. Attorneys and officials from the Departments of the Interior and Justice and an advisory committee of experts was appointed to examine the scope and impact of violence facing American Indian and Alaska Native children and make policy recommendations on ways to address it. This is their final report and recommendations.

Through Our Eyes: Children, Violence, and Trauma (last updated April 2014)
This Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) web resource presents a video series and related materials that discuss how crime, abuse, violence, and trauma affect children.

Report of the Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence (December 2012)
The Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, which was part of former Attorney General Eric Holder's Defending Childhood Initiative, issued a final report on findings and its comprehensive policy recommendations. 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)
The NCTSN is funded by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and jointly coordinated by UCLA and Duke University. NCTSN aims to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States.


Juvenile Violent Victimization,1995-2018 (December 2020)
This OJJDP and Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) bulletin provides an overview of juvenile violent victimization from data presented in three national datasets—the National Crime Victimization Survey, the National Incident-Based Reporting System, and the National Vital Statistics System.

Criminal Victimization, 2019 (September 2020)
This report is the 47th in a series that began in 1973. It provides official estimates of criminal victimizations reported and not reported to police from BJS's National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). It describes the characteristics of crimes, victims, and offenders. In addition, this year, BJS provides new classifications of urban, suburban, and rural areas, with the goal of presenting a more accurate picture of where criminal victimizations occur.

Child Protection: Dependency Courts (August 2020)
This fact sheet details OJJDP programs, training, and funding to ensure that dependency court personnel have the skills to address the complex needs of children and their families who come before the court.

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2019 (July 2020)
A joint effort by the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, this annual report examines crime occurring in schools and colleges. This report presents data on crime at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population from several sources—the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the School Crime Supplement to the NCVS, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the Schools and Staffing Survey, EDFacts, and the Campus Safety and Security Survey. 

Child Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Parent Aggression in Two Generations (February 2019)
This research helps clarify the developmental risks of child exposure to family violence by attending to the conjoint influence of both mother and father IPV and parent-to-child aggression (PCA), physical (spanking or forceful physical contact—such as pushes and slaps) and psychological (or emotional behavior—such as threats and ridicule) family violence, child exposure in early childhood and adolescence, and intergenerational exposure.

The Prevalence of Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships Among Children and Adolescents (September 2017)
This bulletin presents the methodology and findings of a study of safe, stable, nurturing relationships (SSNR) among children and youth in the United States, using a nationally representative sample.

Improving Outcomes for Children Exposed to Violence: Safe Start Promising Approaches (January 2017)
This report discusses the design and methods used in the outcome evaluation of the Safe Start Promising Approaches (SSPA) initiative, which is the second phase of an initiative that focuses on preventing and reducing the impact of children’s exposure to violence; and it presents data on the enrollment, retention, and power analysis, as well as the outcome evaluation results for the sites with fully powered studies.

Compendium of Research on Children's Exposure to Violence 2010-2015 (June 2016)
This resource from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) provides abstracts for NIJ-funded research related to youth exposure to violence.

The Facts on Children's Exposure to Violence (December 2015)
Developed as part of the Defending Childhood Initiative, this OJJDP-sponsored fact sheet provides statistics that detail the prevalence of children's exposure to violence in their homes, schools and communities.

Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse: Results From the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (August 2015)
The goal of this OJJDP-sponsored study is 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.

National Profile of Children Exposed to Family Violence, Family Response and Individual Impact (January 2015)
This NIJ-sponsored report by the Crimes Against Children Research Center provides the first nationally representative data on youth contact with law enforcement and victim services for cases of family violence involving exposure to children.

National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence Series (2009-2015)
Read OJJDP-produced fact sheets, bulletins, reports on research and survey results from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) series.

Stay Informed

Connect with OJJDP

Stay Connected with OJJDP to keep informed about issues, research, reports and programs on children exposed to violence and trauma. 

Subscribe to OJJDP's bimonthly electronic newsletter OJJDP News @ a Glance and the JUVJUST listserv; or follow OJJDP on Twitter or Facebook.