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Bulletin Reports

Bulletin Reports
Children and Violence

Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey discusses the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Conducted between January and May 2008, it measured the past-year and lifetime exposure to violence for children age 17 and younger across several major categories: conventional crime, child maltreatment, victimization by peers and siblings, sexual victimization, witnessing and indirect victimization (including exposure to community violence and family violence), school violence and threats, and Internet victimization. This survey is the first comprehensive attempt to measure children’s exposure to violence in the home, school, and community across all age groups from birth to age 17, as well as the cumulative exposure to violence over the child’s lifetime.

The survey confirms that most children are exposed to violence in their daily lives. More than 60 percent of those surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly (as a witness to a violent act; by learning of a violent act against a family member, neighbor, or close friend; or from a threat against their home or school). Nearly one-half of the children and adolescents surveyed were assaulted at least once in the past year, and more than 1 in 10 were injured in an assault; 1 in 4 were children and violence victims of robbery, vandalism, or theft; 1 in 10 suffered from child maltreatment, including physical and emotional abuse, neglect, or a family abduction; and 1 in 16 were victimized sexually. More than 1 in 4 witnessed a violent act, and nearly 1 in 10 saw one family member assault another. Multiple victimizations were common: more than one-third experienced two or more direct victimizations in the previous year, more than 1 in 10 experienced five or more direct victimizations in the previous year, and more than 1 in 75 experienced 10 or more direct victimizations in the previous year.

Reports of lifetime exposure to violence were generally about one-third to one-half higher than reports from the past year, although the difference tended to be greater for less frequent and more severe types of victimization. For example, more than three times as many respondents reported being victims of a kidnapping over their lifetimes as did in the past year. Nearly 7 in 8 children who reported being exposed to violence during their lifetimes also reported being exposed to violence within the past year, which indicated that these children were at ongoing risk of violent victimization. The reports of lifetime exposure also indicated how certain types of exposure change and accumulate as a child grows up.

To obtain the complete report (NCJ 227744), access the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website at https://www.ncjrs.gov/.

Tort Cases

The Bureau of Justice Statistics bulletin Tort Bench and Jury Trials in State Courts, 2005 discusses tort cases concluded by a bench or jury trial in a national sample of jurisdictions in 2005. Topics include the types of tort cases that proceed to trial, the differences between tort cases adjudicated by judges and juries, and the types of plaintiffs and defendants represented in tort trials. The report also covers plaintiff win rates, punitive damages, and the final award amounts generated in tort trial litigation. Finally, trends are examined in tort trial litigation in the nation’s 75 most populous counties, based on comparable data in 1996, 2001, and 2005. The report showed that together, bench and jury trials accounted for an estimated 4 percent of all tort dispositions in 2005. Punitive damages were sought in 9 percent of tort trials with plaintiff winners. The median punitive damage award was $55,000. In the nation’s 75 most populous counties, the number of tort trials declined by about one-third between 1996 and 2005. The complete document (NCJ 228129) can be accessed at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website, http://www.ncjrs.gov.

Public Defender Offices

The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released Public Defender Offices, 2007—Statistical Tables. This document examines offices that provide representation for indigent defendants through a salaried staff of full-time or part-time attorneys employed as direct government employees or through a public, nonprofit organization. Public defender offices are categorized according to whether they are principally funded and administered at the state government level, the county level, or through a combination of state and county government. Topics include public defender office staffing, caseloads, expenditures, and standards and guidelines used by the nearly 1,000 public defender offices found across 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Findings showed that in 2007, 964 public defender offices across the nation received nearly 6 million indigent defense cases. Half of all state-based public defender offices had formal caseload limits in place in 2007. Misdemeanor cases accounted for about 40 percent of all cases received by state-based public defender offices and about 50 percent of the cases received by county-based offices. For additional information, access the complete report (NCJ 228538) at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website, https://www.ncjrs.gov/.