Report: Over 25 Percent of Youth Witness Family Violence in Lifetime

Data from the groundbreaking National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NATSCEV) capture, in unprecedented detail, the amount and type of violence youth witness within the home.  More than a ¼ of children have experienced the terror of at least one episode of familial violence in their lifetime.  Over 11 percent of youth reported witnessing or overhearing violence – either verbal threats and attacks or physical aggression – in the past year while 6.6 percent were exposed to physical violence between their parents during the same time period.

The majority of cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) were reported to have a male perpetrator (78 percent), most often the father or other male (boyfriends not living with the mother, etc).  Over 1/5  (22.6) of youth witnesses to IPV reported incidents with only female perpetrators and 8.6 percent reported witnessing violent acts featuring both male and female perpetrators.

When asked what immediate reactions, if any, they had toward the violence, nearly half of the children responding to the survey had attempted to halt the violence by yelling (49.9 percent) while 43.9 percent attempted to leave the vicinity and less that ¼ of respondents (23.6) called for assistance.

Reports, both scientific and anecdotal, linking tough economic conditions to violence and abuse within the home have been widely reported in the media since the downturn took hold. This study provides compelling evidence of the need for continued and improved screening protocols, violence prevention, and intervention methods to address the violence children are exposed to within the home, in times of economic growth or decline.

The brief Children’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Other Family Violence by Sherry Hamy, David Finkelhor, Heather Turner and Richard Ormrod discusses the survey results in-depth and is available in PDF form at the National Criminal Reference Service website.

More Evidence of the Value of Pre-K Programs

Though empirically associated with better educational outcomes and considered by many policymakers to be key to academic success, early childhood education is in danger of being diluted or cut competently from budgets as funding becomes scarce.

A new report from the The Center for Public Education should be required reading for school board members, parents of young children and early childhood education professionals as it provides additional evidence of the benefit of pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) attendance on future academic performance.  The study findings suggest:

  •  Children who attended Pre-K and half-day kindergarten were more likely to have higher third grade reading skills scores than children who attended only full-day kindergarten, without Pre-K.
  •  The higher the level of reading skill examined (above basic), the larger the likelihood of students who attended Pre-K/half-day kindergarten, as opposed to only full-day kindergarten, reaching that level.
  •  The impact of the Pre-K/half-day kindergarten combination was significantly greater for some when the sample data was examined by race, ethnicity and family income. Overall, the impact was greatest for Hispanic students, Black students, students below the poverty level and English-learning students.
  •  The educational attainment of the mother has an impact on the reading level achievement of the student.

The report, Starting Out Right by Jim Hull, a Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Public Education, is available on their website.

Juvenile Criminality – Who Stops Offending and Why?

Findings from the Pathways to Desistance Study out of the University of Pittsburgh, one of the largest current collaborative longitudinal studies in the United States to follow juveniles post-adjudication, indicate that youth offenders tend to decrease their level of criminal behavior over time, no matter the intervention applied.  In the brief, Highlights from Pathways to Desistance: A Longitudinal Study of Serious Adolescent Offenders, principle researcher Edward P. Mulvey discusses other key findings of the study including,

  • less drug and alcohol use and a higher level of stability in daily life are factors that differentiate serious juvenile offenders who have stopped offending from those who continue criminal behavior;
  • recidivism is not reduced by sentencing juveniles to longer terms in institutions;
  • in the short term, drug and alcohol treatment does reduce substance abuse and criminal activity.
The study highlights the pivotal role of substance use and abuse in the criminality of juveniles. This association, while perhaps considered common knowledge for some time, illustrates the continued importance and long-term benefits of evidence-based prevention programs for youth.

Use of Evidence-Based Practices with Homeless Populations

The use of evidence-based practices with homeless populations is the topic of a no cost webinar scheduled for Wednesday, August 24, 2011 from 1:30 – 3:00 (eastern) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Homelessness Resource Center.

The presentation, The Value of Using Evidence-Based Practices in Homeless Services, will include discussion of accountability and quality of care issues related to evidence-based approaches to the needs of homeless persons with mental health and/or substance use problems. Additional details of the presentation and registration materials are available online.