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Sociodemographic Disparities in Stressful Life Events Reported for Children

6.8 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years were victims of or witnessed violence in their neighborhood; exposure varied by age, race, urbanization

THURSDAY, Sept. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Overall, 6.8 percent of children age 5 to 17 years were victims of or witnessed violence in their neighborhood in 2019, according to a September data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Heidi Ullmann, Ph.D., from the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Maryland, and colleagues used data from the 2019 National Health Interview Survey to present sociodemographic disparities in stressful life events as reported by an adult among children aged 5 to 17 years.

The researchers found that 6.8 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years were victims of or witnessed violence in their neighborhood in 2019, with exposure varying by age, race and Hispanic origin, and level of urbanization. With age, there was an increase in the percentage of children who had lived with a parent or guardian who served time in jail or prison; the percentage varied by sociodemographic characteristics. There was variation by race and Hispanic origin and urbanization level in the percentage of children who had lived with someone who was mentally ill or severely depressed. Overall, 9.7 percent of children had lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem; the percentage varied by age, race and Hispanic origin, and urbanization level.

“Stressful life events during childhood may have a detrimental impact on physical and mental development and have both short- and long-term consequences for the child,” the authors write. “Understanding sociodemographic disparities in stressful life events among children may inform policy for prevention and support initiative.”

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