Environmental Safety and Exposure to Violence of Inner City Children Experiencing a Psychiatric Crisis

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Children, violence, psychiatric crisis

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This manuscript focuses on the environmental safety and exposure to violence of a group of particularly vulnerable children ages 5 to 18 years. These children, 96% of whom are African American or Hispanic, resided in the Bronx, New York and presented at a psychiatric emergency room in crisis. The Bronx is New York City's poorest borough and 20% of the murders in New York State are committed there. Of the approximately 300 children eventually enrolled in the master study, 41% were exposed to at least one unsafe environment (home, neighborhood, school or school neighborhood); 21% were exposed to one unsafe environment; 14% to two; 5% to three, and 1% to four unsafe environments. A subsample of 36 children was studied intensively for their direct exposure to violence. Only 50% rated themselves as feeling safe on the streets, while about 80% felt safe at home. The percentage of children who reported witnessing acts of violence was 31% for shootings, 23% for stabbings, 26% for robberies, and 87% for beatings. Two case studies of these children are presented and the implications of these findings are discussed.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Anthropology, v. 16, issue 2-3, p. 197-209