National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV)

Summary: The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, is designed to document the incidence and prevalence of children's exposure to violence, with special emphasis on exposure to domestic and community violence. Phone interviews will be conducted with 4,500 respondents. In addition to measuring a comprehensive range of violence exposures, we will also assess characteristics of individuals, their families, and communities that might influence risk for violence exposure. Further, we will evaluate associations between violence exposure and child mental health.


Each year millions of children are exposed to violence, however current and reliable estimates of the incidence and prevalence of child exposure to violence in the United States are not available. In particular, divergent rates of domestic and community violence exist, in part due to inconsistent definitions and measurement of these domains. Additional information also is needed on how rates of violence exposure vary with respect to characteristics of individuals, families, and communities, and the degree to which different forms of violence co-occur. The National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence is designed to address each of these areas.

Goals and Objectives

  • Document the incidence and prevalence of children’s exposure to violence in the United States in areas including family violence (with particular attention to domestic violence), community violence, and school violence.
  • Evaluate how rates of violence exposure vary across demographic characteristics such as gender, race, age, and family structure.
  • Assess characteristics of each violence exposure, such as the severity of the event and the child’s relationship to the perpetrator.
  • Specify how different forms of violence exposure “cluster” or co-occur.
  • Identify individual, family, and community characteristics that might be related to violence exposure. Examples include:
    • Parent-child relationship characteristics, such as the degree to which they are stable and nurturing
    • Parental supervision and monitoring
    • Neighborhood characteristics, such as the presence of gangs
    • Nature of peer relationships, including level of social support and associations with delinquent peers
  • Examine associations between levels and types of violence exposure and child mental health.
  • Evaluate the extent to which children disclose incidents of violence to various individuals and, when applicable, the nature and source of assistance or treatment given to the child.


Interviewers from a professional interviewing firm will use random digit dialing to construct a sample of 4,500 households with children ages birth to 17. Individuals from high risk communities will be oversampled. One target child will be randomly selected from each eligible household. Interviewers will first conduct a short interview with the caregiver and then conduct the main interview for the target child. For children younger than 10, we will conduct proxy interviews with the adult in the household who is most familiar with the child’s activities. Interviews will be offered in English and Spanish.

Telephone interviews will begin in fall 2007 and are expected to be completed by summer 2008. Initial project findings should be available in winter 2008.

The project will be conducted under the supervision of the University of New Hampshire’s Human Subjects Committee and conform to the rules mandated by research projects funded by the Department of Justice.