1. From 2003 to 2011, there were significant declines in children’s exposure to violence, crime, and abuse; rates of delinquency also declined.
2. These declines were particularly large in rates of exposure to physical assault, physical intimidation, and sexual victimization.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
Study Rundown: In the US, rates of violent crimes amongst adults and children have declined since the mid-1990s. This analysis, which uses results from three national telephone surveys from 2003 to 2011, showed that there were significant decreases in children’s exposure to violence, with particularly large declines in rates of physical assault, physical intimidation, and sexual victimization. Delinquent behavior also declined during this time period. There were no significant demographic differences identified.
The strength of this study was the large number of respondents. However, since surveys were conducted over telephone, the investigators may have excluded those without land lines. The important aspects of the questionnaire were maintained uniformly in the three surveys, which adds credibility. Unfortunately, the surveys did not appropriately include children less than two years of age, which is an important group when studying children’s exposure to violence. Lastly, for those children less than ten years of age, the parents answered the questions on their behalf. This may have skewed the results since children may not tell their parents about physical intimidation, bullying, etc.
In-Depth [national telephone survey]: This analysis comes from three surveys: The Developmental Vicitmization Survey (2003) and the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence I (2008) and II (2011). The numbers of participants (ages 2 – 17) in the three surveys were 2030, 4046, and 4107, respectively. The interview consisted of questions regarding demographics, which were obtained from the parent or primary caregiver, and the information regarding the child was obtained either from the parent (if age <10yrs) or from the child (if age >10yrs). There were 50 violence categories, of which 27 showed past-year reductions over the time period. The most notable outcomes were: 33% decline in assault rates (P<0.001), 43% decline in physical intimidation, and 27% decline in sexual victimization (P<0.05). It is noteworthy that there were no increases in any of the 50 violence categories. Delinquent behavior also declined during this time period: 48% decline in violent delinquency (P<0.001) and 51% decline in property delinquency (P<0.001).
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