According to the results of a telephone-based survey, more than one-quarter of all children nationwide have been exposed to violence involving a weapon.
Kimberly J. Mitchell, PhD of the University of New Hampshire and colleagues have reported that over 17.5 million children (26.5% of the sample) of ages 2 to 17 have either been victimized by weapons, such as a knife, gun, stick and rock or witnessed victimization with a weapon.
Of those surveyed, 2 million children (12.5%) experienced direct victimization, while 13.1% reported indirect victimization, they wrote in Pediatrics.
Weapons with a “high lethality risk” such as guns and knives, with 3.1% of the victimized sample reporting at least one direct (2.1%) or indirect (0.9%) incident involving these types of weapons in the past year was separately examined for the study. Those children living with a non-parent adult caregiver (7.9%) and older age (6.3% of 14 to 17 year old) was included in risk factors.
Those victimized by a knife or gun were more likely to be associated with personal weapon carrying (13.2%), per weapon carrying in the past year (12.3%) and victimization at least seven times (“poly victimization status”) in the last year (8.4% which is not surprising.
A greater proportion of these victims were also more likely to report experiencing trauma symptoms in the last month (5.3% Yes versus 2.7% No) and high adversity from their experiences in the last year (4.6% Yes versus 2.6% No).
“We felt that if there was a victimization incident that involved a weapon in some way, that would exacerbate the trauma or the harm from the victimization,” she said. “We wanted to get a sense of how often this was happening — go from there, put a number to the problem and see how it was impacting kids.”