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Children Exposed to Violence

Literature Review: A product of the Model Programs Guide
REDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock.com (see reuse policy).

There is a large body of evidence examining the relationship between childhood exposure to violence (CEV) and unwanted psychological, behavioral, health, and socioeconomic outcomes (Afifi et al., 2020; Carlson et al., 2019; Farrell and Zimmerman, 2018; Fitton, Yu, and Fazel, 2020; Lippard and Nemeroff, 2020; Polanin et al., 2021; Weissman et al., 2020). This relationship has emerged as an important topic of research, as it relates to delinquency and juvenile justice system involvement (Dierkhising, Ko, and Goldman, 2013; Duron et al., 2021; Kracke and Hahn, 2008).

Existing research on CEV includes studies examining data from the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), which provides national estimates of violence against youth (Finkelhor et al., 2015a); studies examining specific types of violence exposure, such as child abuse victimization or exposure to community violence (Assink et al., 2019; Estrada et al., 2021); and studies examining how CEV is related to delinquency and other adverse outcomes (Baglivio et al., 2014; Malvaso et al., 2018; Malvaso et al., 2021). There also is an increasing body of literature (Graf et al., 2021; Lockwood et al., 2022) on the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), which often overlaps with the CEV research (Afifi et al., 2020).

This literature review examines the prevalence and consequences of CEV; describes definitional challenges for researchers and program providers; reviews risk and protective factors related to CEV; summarizes approaches to preventing, reducing, and addressing the consequences of CEV, such as trauma-informed care; and provides outcome evidence related to interventions that seek to prevent or address CEV. Throughout the literature review, there is an emphasis on delinquency and juvenile justice–related outcomes. Because studies of ACEs and studies of CEV often examine similar experiences and because some research on CEV does so through the lens of ACEs, relevant research on ACEs also is included in this literature review.



    Last Update: December 2022