Children in Boston Survey Exposed Early to Violence

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

One in 10 children whose mothers responded to a survey at a Boston health clinic had witnessed a knifing or a shooting by age 6, a study has found.

Besides chronicling the prevalence of violence in the lives of inner- city youngsters, the study--which the researchers say is the first of its kind to focus on young children--also highlights effects on "the caregiving of parents'' when they fear for their children's safety.

The survey involved 115 children whose mothers brought them to Boston City Hospital's primary-care pediatric clinic. Their mothers were asked about their own experiences and those of their oldest child under age 6. More than half of the mothers were single, about three-quarters had annual incomes under $10,000, and their average age was 28. The average age of the children was 2.7.

Of the 115 children, 8 were reported to have seen a shooting--half at home and half in the neighborhood--and 4 had witnessed a knifing--3 of them at home. Another 21 had seen shoving, kicking, or punching--5 in the home--and 15 of the 21 had seen such events more than once.

One in 3 of the mothers also witnessed shootings and stabbings, and several were victims: 1 reported being shot, 10 reported being knifed, and 40 were shoved, kicked, or punched.

The study, which is being prepared for publication, was conducted from July to October 1991. Researchers summarized the findings at the annual meeting of the Ambulatory Pediatric Association this month.

Coping With Violence

Dr. Barry Zuckerman, a professor of pediatrics at Boston City Hospital and Boston University School of Medicine and one of the researchers, said younger children may be especially vulnerable "because they don't have the level of cognitive development to fully understand the violence--or the language skills to express their feelings.''

Such children, he said, "may suppress their feelings and become dead inside,'' increasing the likelihood that they could perpetrate violence themselves in later years.

The study also raises questions about the effects of limiting children's movements out of fear.

"We found that moms make adaptations in behavior that protect the young children,'' such as limiting the time they do errands or restricting where their children play, said Dr. Laura Taylor, the principal researcher and a fellow in developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Boston City Hospital and B.U. medical school.

"What happens when you have a very active toddler and ... you feel like you can't ... go outside?'' she asked. "We can speculate that would put tremendous stress on the parent-child relationship.''

Vol. 11, Issue 35, Page 11

Published in Print: May 20, 1992, as Children in Boston Survey Exposed Early to Violence
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >