227031 Child exposure to violence: A local needs assessment to develop a community prevention agenda

Monday, November 8, 2010

Courtenay Kessler, MS , UW Population Health Fellowship, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Barbra Beck, PhD , Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Carmen Pitre , Co-Director, Sojourner Family Peace Center, Milwaukee, WI
Audrey Skwierawski, JD , Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, City of Milwaukee Health Department, Milwaukee, WI
Mallory O'Brien, PhD , Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy, Duke University, Milwaukee, WI
Purpose: Exposure to domestic violence is common and chronic in the lives of children. Research identifies many pathways through which chronic exposure to violence negatively impacts the health of child witnesses, victims and perpetrators. The Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission uses a multi-level, multi-disciplinary homicide review process to identify opportunities for prevention. Through its Domestic Violence Review, child exposure has been identified as a high priority issue.

Methods: A local workgroup was formed to address child exposure to domestic violence. The workgroup initiated a multi-method needs assessment in Milwaukee, WI. In-depth interviews (n=34) were conducted with providers across relevant sectors: social service, health, criminal justice, education, and government/policy. Questions focused on local perceptions and strengths and gaps in services. Next, police records will be analyzed to identify factors related to domestic violence-related homicides with children present. An exploratory sample of other homicides will be reviewed to characterize child witness to other violence.

Results: Preliminary results suggest a strong social justice perspective informs the local understanding of child exposure to violence. Service providers and other experts have beliefs about child exposure that are consistent with scientific evidence. There is a clear understanding of the effects of exposure to violence on health later in life.

Conclusions: This study identifies local opportunities for prevention and may help shape city and state goals related to children and violence. The workgroup provides an example of a multi-disciplinary partnership addressing exposure to violence. There is opportunity to develop a policy agenda informed by a social justice perspective.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe a local multi-method effort to assess the understanding of and response to child exposure to domestic violence across local services. 2. Define child exposure to violence as a social justice issue enhanced through an understanding of social determinants

Keywords: Domestic Violence, Child/Adolescent Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a UW Population Health Fellow, completing post-masters training through coordinating projects related to domestic violence, sexual assault, child exposure to violence, and other public health priorities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.