2013. Vol.4, No.2, 133-135
Published Online February 2013 in SciRes
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 133
Exposures to Violence and Trauma among Children and
Adolescents in Our Global Society
Clarissa Agee Shavers
The Safer Tomorrows: Inju ry Prevention and Violence Reduct i o n Project©, Primary Care Office,
Received July 1st, 2012; revised N ovember 6th, 2 01 2 ; a c c e p te d D e c ember 12th, 2012
Globally, hundreds of children and adolescents witness acts of violence and trauma on a daily basis. No-
tably, children and adolescents exposed to violence and trauma may display mild-to-severe psycho-social-
emotional and mental health care problems. Also, exposures to violence and trauma among children and
adolescents have resulted into an alarming global health care issue for our society. All health care provid-
ers (HCP’s) must continue to actively engage in early identification, screening, assessing, and treating
children and adolescents who self-disclose exposures to violence and trauma.
Keywords: Children; Adolescents; Violence; Trauma; Health Care Providers
Exposures to various forms of violence including homicide
and trauma among children and adolescents (youth) have re-
sulted in a significant burden on our global society (Shavers,
2009; Pinheiro, 2006; Fraser, 2012). Similarly, these reported
occurrences of exposures to violence and trauma among chil-
dren and youth remains to be an escalating or spiraling global
public health concern (Shavers, 2010). On a global scale, inves-
tigators have reported that thousands of youth report witnessing
or experiencing various acts related to violence and trauma on a
daily basis (Vernberg, Nelson, Fonagy, & Twemlow, 2011;
Children’s Defense Fund, 2012; World Health Organization,
2009). In fact, according to the aforementioned reports, glob-
ally, mortality and morbidity rates associated with exposures to
violence and trauma among children and youth have resulted in
a growing serious public health concern.
In addition, many investigators have denoted that with the
ongoing prevalence and incidence of exposures to various
forms of violence and trauma among children and youth may
result in serious threats to their overall psycho-social-emotional,
mental, and physical health including adverse long-term or
chronic effects (Cisler, Amstadter, & Nugent, 2011; Nader,
2011; Penn State, 2012; Felitti et al., 1998). Likewise, research
has shown that children and youth who self-disclose exposures
to violence and trauma either directly or as witnesses may be
at-risk for experiencing psycho-social-emotional and mental
health care issues including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
or post-traumatic stress symptomatology (Cook et al., 2007;
Shavers et al., 2005a; Task Force on Community Preventive
Services, 2008). Also, even more devastating is the fact that the
emotional trauma that may occur after a traumatic or violent
injury may place the survivor (i.e. child or youth) at an in-
creased risk for future injury, substance abuse and subsequently
death (Finkelhor et al., 2009). Further, studies have reported
that childhood or adolescent exposure to violence, victimization
(i.e. bullying) and traumatic events have been associated with
suicidal ideation among children and youth (Klo mek, So ur an der ,
& Gould, 2012; Turner et al., 2012).
Similarly, evidence suggests that children and youth exposed
to witnessing of violent and traumatic events in the home in-
cluding Domestic Violence (DV) or Intimate Partner Violence
(IPV) and/or in the community may also experience psycho-
social-emotional, mental, and physical symptomatology (Holt,
Buckley, & Whelan, 2008; McDonald & Richmond, 2008;
Jaycox et al., 2010). Moreover, children and youth of battered
or abused women have been noted to be significantly impacted
by exposure to episodes of violence and trauma in the home
(Shavers et al., 2005b). For much of the noted research reported
has identified that witnessing violence and trauma (i.e. DV or
IPV or Family Violence) in the home by children and youth
may significantly impact their overall psycho-social- emotional
health including their memory of these events or experiences
(Shavers et al., 2005b; Cloitre et al., 2010). Further, the f i n di n gs
from the literature has also identified that children and youth
witnessing violence or trauma in the home or other traumatic
interpersonal events have been found to manifest symptoms of
depression which may lead them to experience suicidal ideolo-
gies, cognitive deficits in attention and memory, anxiety and
sleep disorders, aggression and feelings of sadness, loss, and
anger (Cohen & Walthall, 2003; Schwarz, 2009; Fletcher,
While not all children and youth who self-report exposures to
violence and trauma may need health care intervention to effec-
tively deal with the aftermath of victimization or traumatization,
there are still a number of children and youth who will need to
receive appropriate health care intervention to help them heal
from such events. Thus, Health Care Providers (HCP’s) are in a
unique position to play a significant role in reducing the inci-
dence of violence, violent-related injuries or acts and adverse
traumatic events among this population. Similarly, not all chil-
dren or youth may self-disclose exposures to violence and
trauma for various reasons including fear (Shavers et al.,
2005b). Therefore, it is utmost importance that HCP’s be ac-
tively involved in measures that will allow early detection,
intervention, and treatment as indicated.
C. A. SHAVERS
Likewise, HCP’s should be aware of the fact that exposures
to various forms of violence and trauma occur among children
and youth from all socioeconomic, ethnic, religious and cultural
backgrounds (Shavers, 2009). Furthermore, HCP’s should
know and understand the ethnic and cultural attitudes, feelings,
values, beliefs, and behaviors in response to reported exposures
to various forms of violence and trauma among children and
youth in the communities that they serve or provide health care
in order to be effective in meeting the needs of their patients or
clients and in an effort to be culturally sensitive. Equally,
HCP’s should be cognizant of the fact that exposures to vio-
lence or acts related to violence and trauma among children and
youth are common health care problems and concerns. In addi-
tion, HCP’s should recognize that exposures to violence and
trauma among children and youth may pose as risk factors for
psycho-social-emotional, mental, and physical health care prob-
Further, HCP’s are in a key position to screen, recognize, and
assess for exposures to violence and trauma among children,
youth, and their families. Also, HCP’s need to provide and have
readily available a variety of resources including community-
based, as well as, evidence-based resources that will promote a
sense of health, safety and security, support, and advocacy for
children and youth who disclose or are at-risk for exposures to
violence and trauma. In the same way, HCP’s need to know the
local or governmental existing laws and procedures for report-
ing to respective authorities’ children and youth who self-report
or are at-risk for exposure to violence and trauma to ensure
their safety. Finally, HCP’s should work towards empowering
children and youth to effectively address the issues of violence
and trauma in their young lives.
So in summary, forlornly, exposures to various forms of vio-
lence and trauma among today’s children and youth have been
noted to be a serious threat to their psycho-social-emotional,
mental, and overall physical health and wellbeing. Similarly,
exposures to various forms of violence and trauma among to-
day’s children and youth cross all socioeconomic statuses, reli-
gious, ethnic-cultural, and geographical milieu (Shavers, 2009).
Hence, HCP’s should be cognizant of the fact that voluntarily
or non-voluntarily self-reports of exposures to various forms of
violence and trauma among children and youth are inevitable.
Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that HCP’s routinely
screen, early identify, assess, and appropriately treat those chil-
dren and youth who self-report exposures to violence and
trauma in an effort to possibly circumvent or alleviate the pre-
viously noted adverse psycho-social-emotional, mental health
and physical consequences.
Thus, in conclusion, it is of essence that HCP’s should be
cognizant of the actual, probable or potential detrimental im-
pact of exposures to various forms of violence and trauma
among children and youth in our global society. Moreover,
HCP’s are called to be proactively involved in all endeavors to
promote the psycho-social-emoti onal, mental, physical and ov er-
all well-being of children and youth who disclose actual, pre-
vious or past, and probable or potential exposures to various
forms of violence and trauma in our global society. This may be
accomplished by HCP’s incorporating routine screening, early
identification, assessment, and appropriate therapeutic treat-
ment modalities. Finally, one must remember that the future
rests with our children and youth and therefore, the best ap-
proach on their behalf should be health promotion and preven-
tion of exposures to violence and adverse traumatic events.
This article was supported by an academic publication grant
from the Text and Academic Authors Association Inc. (TAA)
x.html. Also, the author would like to acknowledge the follow-
ing membe rs of T he Safer Tomorrows Project Research Team©:
C.A. Archer-Gift, Ph.D., L.M. Green, M.A., L.L.P.C., B.S.W.,
J.E. Onyskiw, Ph. D. and M. Price, Ph.D. for their assistance
and dedication to our mission and vision.
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