Children Exposed To Violence

Why is this topic important to law enforcement?

A 2008 national survey revealed that, in the previous year, 60% of children and adolescents reported at least one victimization, 46.3% experienced a physical assault, 25.3% witnessed violence, 9.8% witnessed intra-family assault, 10.2% were subjected to child maltreatment, 10.2% experienced a victimization-related injury, and 6.1% experienced sexual victimization.i Children who are witnesses to or victims of violence are at risk of suffering severe consequences. They are at greater risk as victims and offenders of higher physical aggression, delinquency and violent behavior in adolescence.ii In 2010, it was estimated that 3.3 million allegations of child maltreatment were reported to child protective service agencies, involving approximately 6 million children.iii

Violence interrupts a child’s experience of safety and care, and fills it with danger, overwhelming stimulation, and helplessness. Law enforcement are the leading first responders to violent and catastrophic events that affect children’s lives and are uniquely positioned to identify and intervene with CEV more quickly than any other profession. They can benefit greatly from increased knowledge of trauma-informed response and assisting children and families exposed to violent or traumatic events.

IACP’s Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Children Exposed to Violence Initiative

With the support of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, IACP launched the Enhancing Law Enforcement Response to Children Exposed to Violence project in October 2012. This project focuses on increasing the understanding of CEV among law enforcement leaders and officers. In partnership with the Yale University Child Study Center, IACP will provide law enforcement professionals with resources and tools to effectively identify and respond to violent events involving children.

For more information on best practices from the field and what IACP is doing to provide your agency with tools to combat CEV, visit our Enhancing Law Enforcement Response page, Resource Library, Program Directory, and CEV Training and Technical Assistance page. Questions? Email us at or call 1-800-THE-IACP x 802.

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2012-CV-BX-K056 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues.

i Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R. K., Turner, H. A. (2009). Lifetime assessment of poly-victimization in a national sample of children and youth. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33(7), 403-411.

ii Jenkins, E., & Bell , C. (1997). Exposure and response to community violence among children and adolescents. In J. Osofsky (Ed.), Children in a Violent Society. New York: Guilford Press.

iii U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Children’s Bureau. (2011). Child Maltreatment 2010.  Retrieved August 14, 2012