Polyvictimization: Children’s exposure to multiple types of violence, crime, and abuse

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David Finkelhor
Heather Turner
Sherry Hamby
Richard Ormrod


A Message from OJJDP: 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. The Attorney General launched Defending Childhood in September 2010 to unify the Department of Justice’s efforts to address children’s exposure to violence under one initiative. Through Defending Childhood, the Department is raising public awareness about the issue and supporting practitioners, researchers, and policymakers as they seek solutions to address it. A component of Defending Childhood, OJJDP’s Safe Start initiative continues efforts begun in 1999 to enhance practice, research, training and technical assistance, and public education about children and violence. Under Safe Start, OJJDP conducted the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, the most comprehensive effort to date to measure the extent and nature of the violence that children endure and its consequences on their lives. This is the first study to ask children and caregivers about exposure to a range of violence, crime, and abuse in children’s lives. As amply evidenced in this bulletin series, children’s exposure to violence is pervasive and affects all ages. The research findings reported here and in the other bulletins in this series are critical to informing our efforts to protect children from its damaging effects

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