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National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence


The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) is a comprehensive nationwide survey of the incidence and prevalence of children's exposure to violence. It measures past-year and lifetime exposure to violence for children age 17 and younger across several major categories: conventional crime, child maltreatment, victimization by peers and siblings, sexual victimization, witnessing and indirect victimization, school violence and threats, and Internet victimization.

Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Data Years Available: 
Mode of Collection: 
Telephone interview.
Selected Content: 
Child's age and other demographic characteristics; exposure to specific types of assault, bullying, sexual victimization, child maltreatment by an adult. Follow-up questions were asked about the perpetrator, use of a weapon, injury, and multiple events.
Population Covered: 
Children aged 17 and younger living in the continental U.S.

The 2008 NatSCEV was a random-digit dial telephone survey interviewing youths ages 10 to 17 and adult caregivers of children age 9 and under. Telephone interviews were used because they afford greater anonymity and privacy than in-person interviews and may encourage those interviewed to be more forthcoming about the sensitive topics covered in this survey. Telephone exchanges for African-American, Hispanic, and low-income households were oversampled. An adult (usually a parent) provided demographic information for each household. A sample child in the household was then selected to be surveyed. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

Response Rates and Sample Size: 

The interview sample (n= 4,549) consisted of 2 groups: a nationally representative sample of telephone numbers within the contiguous U.S. (n=3,053) and an oversample of telephone exchanges with 70% or greater African American, Hispanic, or low-income households (n=1,496).

Interpretation Issues: 

Finkelhor D et al. Children's Exposure to Violence: a Comprehensive National Study. Juvenile Justice Bulletin. October, 2009. Available at: Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey.