Violence Exposure Among School-Age Children in Foster Care
Relationship to Distress Symptoms
Published in: Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, v. 40, no. 5, May 2001, p. 588-594
OBJECTIVE: To describe the amount and nature of violence exposure and examine the relationship between violence exposure and distress symptoms among children in foster care. METHOD: Violence exposure and distress symptoms were evaluated in interviews, conducted between July 1996 and March 1998, of 300 children from Los Angeles County living in out-of-home placement. RESULTS: Interviews were successfully completed in 91% of eligible children. The majority of children (85%) reported having been a witness to violence, and 51% had been a victim of violence during their lifetime. Of these youths, 54% and 41%, respectively, reported having been exposed to such violence in the past 6 months. Girls, victims of assaultive violence and weapon related violence, and those reporting exposure to mild violence were more likely (p < .05) to have higher levels of distress symptoms than those without such characteristics, after age was controlled for. CONCLUSIONS: Children in foster care continue to have high levels of violence exposure, even after removal from their biological parents' home. The relationship between violence exposure and distress symptoms underscores the need for clinicians to inquire about multiple forms of violence exposure among children living in out-of-home placement.