printer icon Print page

Children, Violence, and Trauma: Community-Based Approaches

Community-, neighborhood-, and faith-based groups play important roles in the lives of children. All offer an important sense of connectedness, particularly when a child is exposed to violence. Experts agree that involving the child’s family is critical to healthy development, and many programs offer services and support to parents or caregivers as well as children. The three programs depicted in this video exemplify the philosophy that "it takes a village to raise a child."

Children living in violent homes are at particularly high risk for abuse and trauma. According to the National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence,1 roughly 18.8 million youth ages 14–17 have been exposed to family violence at some time in their lives, and 9 out of 10 of those teens were eyewitnesses to the violence. Other research2 tells us that as many as half of these children are themselves abused. In fact, children who witness violence at home experience many of the same physical and emotional consequences as children who are victimized themselves.

Efforts are underway throughout the country to address the special needs of these children and their families, often focusing on mothers, who are the predominant victims of intimate partner violence. Many communities have undertaken broad-based initiatives to shore up support for women and children in these circumstances, often involving law enforcement, child protection, women’s shelters, the courts, medical providers, mental health professionals, and various faith- and community-based organizations. For more information, visit the Safe Start Center website.

Related Resources


Boys & Girls Clubs of America
FRIENDS, National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention
National Center for Trauma-Informed Care
National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes
National Indian Child Welfare Association
Prevent Child Abuse America
Safe Start Center

Web Sites

Child Welfare Information Gateway
Enhanced Services to Children and Youth Exposed to Violence


Battered Mothers Involved with Child Protective Services: Learning from Immigrant, Refugee and Indigenous Women’s Experiences
Child Protection in Families Experiencing Domestic Violence
Children’s Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence and Other Family Violence
Evidence-Based Practices for Children Exposed to Violence: A Selection from Federal Databases
The Facts on Children and Domestic Violence
Healing Invisible Wounds: Why Investing in Trauma-Informed Care for Children Makes Sense
Moving Beyond The Walls: Faith and Justice Partnerships Working for High-Risk Youth
Partnerships for the Common Good: A Partnership Guide for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Organizations
Prevalence of Violent Crime among Households with Children, 1993–2010
Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development
Working Together to Help Children Exposed to Violence

1The National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence (NatSCEV) was conducted in 2008. It involved 4,500 telephone interviews with children ages 10–17, and caregivers of children ages 9 and younger, asking about 45 different kinds of violence, abuse, and victimization in the past year and over their lifetime. For more information on the survey and its findings, visit the National Criminal Justice Reference Service and search for NatSCEV.

2J.L. Edleson, 1995,Mothers and Children: Understanding the Links between Woman Battering and Child Abuse, St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse.