Community violence can be defined as exposure to intentional acts of interpersonal violence committed in public areas by individuals who are not intimately related to the victim. Common types of community violence that affect youth include individual and group conflicts (e.g., bullying, fights among gangs and other groups, shootings in public areas such as schools and communities, civil wars in foreign countries or “war-like” conditions in U.S. cities, spontaneous or terrorist attacks, etc.). Although there are warnings for some types of traumas, community violence can happen with a sudden and terrifying shock. Consequently, youth and families that suffer from community violence often experience increased fears and feelings that the world is unsafe and harm could come at any time. In addition, although some types of trauma are accidental, community violence is an intentional attempt to hurt one or more people, including homicides, sexual assaults, robberies, and weapons attacks (bats, knives, guns, etc.).
NCTSN Resources on Community Violence
Building Resiliency: Supporting Youth Affected by Trauma and Community Violence
Led by its Urban Youth Trauma Center (Chicago) site, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network is launching an Expert Speaker Series on “Building Resiliency: Supporting Youth Affected by Trauma and Community Violence.” These webinars will be conducted by nationally recognized expert speakers in these fields as well as NCTSN members representing service providers, researchers, and consumer representatives who can provide expertise on the impact of violence on youth and best practices for prevention and trauma intervention.
Secondary Traumatic Stress A Fact Sheet for Organizations Employing Community Violence Workers (2016) (PDF)
This fact sheet is intended to support organizations employing community violence (CV) workers or interventionists in reducing the risk of secondary traumatic stress associated with this important work.
Community Violence: Reactions and Actions in Dangerous Times (2013) (PDF)
This resource provides information on community violence, how it can affect daily lives, and what to do for support.
Helping Youth After a Community Trauma: Tips for Educators (2014) (PDF)
This resource offers what teens might be feeling after a tragic community event and how educators can help them with those feelings.
Violent Places, Dangerous Times: Does Community Violence Control Your Life? (2013) (PDF)
This product is a checklist that youth can use to assess whether they experience community violence.
Community and School Violence Reading List
Consult an NCTSN reading list of research on community and school violence.