Children's exposure to violence in an urban setting

Karen Sheehan*, Joseph A. DiCara, Susan LeBailly, Katherine Kaufer Christoffel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the exposure to violence of a representative sample of children living in an inner-city public housing development. Design: Self report survey. Setting: Chicago public housing development that covers 4 census tracts; population, 95% African American, 75% below the poverty level. Participants: One hundred forty-six African American youth, aged 7 through 13 years, completed the survey; 53% were male; mean and median ages, 11 years. Seventy-two children (case subjects) are involved in a community-based health and recreation program. They completed the survey prior to participating in a peer-mentoring violence prevention curriculum. The other 74 children (control subjects) were recruited by a community member going door to door. Control subjects were matched to case subjects for age, sex, and census tract. Results: The case and control subjects were similar in their exposure to violence and so were grouped for analysis. Of the 146 children, 42% had seen someone shot and 37% had seen someone stabbed; 21% lived with someone who had been shot and 16% lived with someone who had been stabbed. Forty-seven percent of the girls and 55% of the boys had witnessed violence (P>.25). Almost all subjects (90%) felt safe at home. Two thirds (65%) of the children were not afraid to play outside, but almost half (43%) worried about getting hurt at school. Conclusions: These data, which describe a representative sample of children from an inner-city housing project, confirm the results from older clinic and school-based convenience samples. In this low-income community, children are frequently exposed to deadly violence. In contrast with other reports, girls here are not spared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-504
Number of pages3
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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