The Tule River Reservation Shooting

The tragic and devastating shootings this week have stunned communities and the nation, such as with the Tule River Indian Reservation shooting. In the wake of this devastation it’s important for the families and communities affected to be able to find a way to cope in the aftermath of the event. The Safe Start Center has a variety of resources that can help communities manage and find a way to handle this kind of exposure to violence and trauma.

Healing the Invisible Wounds: Children’s Exposure to Violence – A Guide for Families

Survivors of these types of events may have been physically and/or emotionally hurt by witnessing the violent event. Children are resilient, but if the child has been affected it may be difficult to identify when something is wrong especially if there are no clear physical signs of harm. The above guide can help in understanding how to help children cope with the “invisible wounds” affecting them emotionally and psychologically.

Trauma Informed Care Tip Sheets

These are resources for anyone working with children, including parents and teachers, on different ways to recognize trauma and the ways you can help.

Tools and Resources

This is an overall list of tools and resources that you can explore for further information about violence exposure and prevention.

For further information please visit our main website, or email us at


Children exposed to Community Violence

The headlines out of Chicago for the past few months have painted a picture of a community full of children living with violence.

July 11: Gun Violence Leaves 4 More Chicago Youth Wounded

June 25: Chicago Shootings: Tyquan Tyler, 13-Year-Old, Among 4 Killed, Dozens Hurt Over Weekend

April 2: Mayor Attends Youth Violence Summit After Bloody Chicago Weekend

Many children and adults have been physically injured – and even killed – in the shootings and many, many more have been exposed to the violence.

The National Survey on Childhood Exposure to Violence found 42.2 percent of teenagers had been exposed to community violence in their lifetime. Community violence can include gang violence, other assaults outside the home and bullying.

As with all exposure to violence, directly or indirectly witnessing community violence can harm children. Other than physical injury, the trauma can lead to behavioral changes and hinder emotional and cognitive development.

While Chicago’s numbers are staggering – more than 200 killed so far this year – community violence can happen anywhere. It is critical that we join efforts to expand children’s ability to cope after experiencing a traumatic event.

Making sure any child has a reliable, understanding adult in their lives and the systems (for example, schools, churches, libraries)  to help them through the trauma of exposure and building their resilience can limit the negative impacts associated with exposure to violence.  More details on how to do that and exactly how exposure can impact a child are discussed in our issue brief Understanding Children’s Exposure to Violence.

Numerous organizations have missions and resources to reduce the prevalence and decrease the negative impacts of exposure to community violence.

Chicago Safe Start is one of the first grantees working to find practices and programs to treat and prevent childhood exposure to violence. Originally funded in 2000, the program continues to provide resources to the community on youth violence prevention.

Have you seen The Interrupters? It’s a documentary following CeaseFire, violence interrupters working with gang members in Chicago to quell the violence. The unique group uses former gang members to work in the streets with youth.

On the federal level, The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention is collaboration between six cities around the country and the federal government, focused on reducing youth violence – particularly gang violence.

Join us next week and on Facebook, when we take a closer look at gang violence and the impact on children.

CEV Awareness Week: Community Violence

The issue of exposure to violence touches on a wide range of issues. This week we’re highlighting awareness about Children Exposed to Violence and one of its most difficult and common exposures – community violence.

What exactly do we mean by “community violence” and how does it affect children?

Well, the NYU Child Study Center states:

“Community violence (CV) refers to exposure, as a witness or through actual experience, to acts of interpersonal violence perpetrated by individuals who are not intimately related to the victim. In contrast to community violence, domestic violence refers to acts of interpersonal violence between adult intimate partners.”

But, it is also important to remember that community violence can happen anywhere, and is an umbrella for a variety of issues that include things such as gang violence and delinquency.

Now that we’ve explained what it is, what is the affect on children?

According the National Survey on Children Exposed to Violence (NatSCEV)

“19.2 percent of U.S. children under the age of 18 witnessed an assault in their community during a one-year period. The percentage rises with the age of the child: 5.8 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds witnessed an assault in their community, while 42.2 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds witnessed an assault.

Exposure to community violence can hurt children and they are more likely as they grow to develop a harmful and hostile view of the world. They are also one of the highest groups at-risk for re-victimization later in life.

Let’s take a look at gang violence as one aspect of a kind of community violence that negatively impacts kids.

First, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry defines “gangs [as] groups of children, adolescents and young adults who share a common identity and are involved in wrongful or delinquent activities.” These same activities can lead to repeat victimizations or even death.

A recent example from the, Chicago Sun-Times, shares the severe consequences of youth related community gang violence in the Chicago neighborhood of Roger’s Park. In just the past week alone, there were 16 shootings, including 5 murders, showing an increase in the level of violence since 2011. Sadly, this is just one example of many.

But there are ways to fight back that communities and individuals can use to help stop the exposure to violence in their communities.

A great example of this can be seen here, Roseland’s churches campaign to stop neighborhood violence. Churches, residents and community groups in this Chicago neighborhood are banding together to start community-wide efforts to teach awareness about violence exposure. These efforts are targeted to help treat survivors of violence and to help increase protection for their children in the community.

If you want more resources and programs that help prevent community violence, check out the Child Welfare Information Gateway. They have a wide variety of resources and here you’ll find a specific list of state and local examples.

You can also check out more about what the Safe Start initiative has done to help children exposed to violence in the community and other settings in the Communities Working Together To Help Children Exposed to Violence Findings From Phase I of the Safe Start Initiative.

Please continue to join us this week as we talk more about CEV awareness!

Trayvon Martin and Community Violence

Much has been said about the Trayvon Martin case in central Florida this past month. Much more could be said and even more will probably never be known for sure. What we do know is that Trayvon was walking home from a nearby store when he was approached by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Accounts vary as to what happened next, but the outcome left Martin dead from a gunshot wound.

However, what isn’t being talked about so much is the environment where this tragic incident played out.

Continue reading

Human Trafficking: Global Phenomena. Domestic Concern.

Human Trafficking: Global Phenomena. Domestic Concern.

Over the last several years, the topic of human trafficking – or modern day slavery as many advocates call it – has captured the attention and pulled on the heart strings of the American public. U.S. citizens became indignant as they realized that slavery, something they thought fixed a century ago, was still growing in the world. Since then, countless organizations, advocacy campaigns, and fundraisers have been created to help the victims of global trafficking, especially the women and girls trafficked in our country.

Unfortunately, many people still don’t know that these same horror stories happen in their state, their county, their city. Recent reports cite that American born girls and boys are just as likely to be trafficked domestically as immigrant children. Amy Fine Collin recently wrote a story for Vanity Fair on domestic sex trafficking about two trafficked American girls, Gwen and Alicia, and the police officers, lawyers, social workers, and doctors who helped free them. “A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a “righteous” pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings,” Collin writes. This is an American reality, one that unfortunately is targeting younger and younger children.

Continue reading

Community violence prevention and awareness at the local level

Peoria program helps children, families cope with violence

Exposure to community violence is an ongoing problem, especially with children, and there are a variety of agencies and individuals working tirelessly to combat it. Defining violence exposure overall and community violence can be an overwhelming task as both have very broad meanings. Community violence usually involves interpersonal violence i.e. gang related problems, assault, incidents involving weapons, etc; and exposure to violence encompasses abuse, neglect or child maltreatment, domestic violence, and community violence. This article describes the Heart of Illinois Safe from the Start Program (HOI), which, for the past ten years, has been working to help kids deal with the violence in their surroundings.

HOI finds that many of their referrals come from situations that involve mostly domestic violence and not community violence, which they find surprising, due to the level of community violence exposure in their communities. The article points out that the prevailing problem is more that there is still very little understanding about how community violence hurts children and what the long-term effects of exposure are on their behavior, now and in the future.

The 2010 Illinois State Health Improvement Plan,  is also noted, which tasks the State with improving and reducing violence, and this improvement plan should extend to a better understanding of how community violence affects all aspects of the community, i.e., at home or school. It’s important for officials and the overall community to understand the impact so that they can help increase prevention and awareness of the problem. If there is increased awareness about the connection between exposure to violence and issues like delinquency rates and problematic behavior, it could be another step in combating the after effects of the violence and can help stop the cycle from continuing.

Further Resources:

Safe Start Center Trauma-Informed Care Tipsheets

Chicago Safe Start

Community and School Violence Reading List

National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches

New from the Rand Corporation:

National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches

Assessing Program Outcomes

The Rand Corporation has just published a report on the second phase of the Safe Start Promising Approaches initiative. The report provides details on the fifteen sites, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), that were tasked with developing and disseminating interventions that help improve outcomes related to children’s exposure to violence. This and related reports might be of interest to others working with families and children that have been effected by direct and indirect exposure to violence.

For more information on the Safe Start National Evaluation, please also see Rand’s

National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches

Assessing Program Implementation

Full Citations:

Jaycox, Lisa H., Laura J. Hickman, Dana Schultz, Dionne Barnes-Proby, Claude Messan Setodji, Aaron Kofner, Racine Harris, Joie Acosta and Taria Francois. National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches: Assessing Program Outcomes. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2011. Also available in print form.

Schultz, Dana , Lisa H. Jaycox, Laura J. Hickman, Anita Chandra, Dionne Barnes-Proby, Joie Acosta, Alice Beckman, Taria Francois and Lauren Honess-Morreale. National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches: Assessing Program Implementation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2010. Also available in print form.

Follow up Update:

Newly Published Research Brief Highlighting the Safe Start Promising Approaches National Evaluation!

Reducing the Impact of Children’s Exposure to Violence

Results of the National Evaluation of Safe Start Promising Approaches

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