Examination of a New Brief Screener to Measure Trauma Symptoms and Violence Exposure Among Young Children


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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to create a reliable, quick and easy to administer screening measure of violence exposure and trauma for children from infancy through age 7. In a sample of 6,676 children, caregivers completing a 22-item screener reported nearly one out of five youth had been exposed as witness or victim to at least one kind of violence. For trauma, caregivers reported that their children had trouble going to sleep at least sometimes (15.83%), had cried or had a tantrum to exhaustion (15.61%) and had difficulty concentrating or focusing (15.55%). Analyses showed reliable internal consistency for violence exposure (.74) and trauma (.85) scales. Factor analyses revealed a single trauma factor and two violence exposure factors, witnessing and victimization. These data provide support for a brief screening measure for trauma and violence exposure in children from birth through age seven that can be administered by minimally trained staff in public systems and community-based agencies who can then refer children and families to necessary assessment and treatment services.

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