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Keywords:

  • Adolescence;
  • school children;
  • environmental influences;
  • stress;
  • victimization;
  • exposure to violence;
  • trauma

This study reports on the development of a structured interview, My Exposure to Violence (My ETV), that was designed to assess child and youth exposure to violence. Eighty participants between the ages of 9 and 24 were assessed. Data from My ETV were fit to a Rasch model for rating scales, a technique that generates interval level measures and allows the characterization of both chronic and acute exposure. Results indicated that the fit statistics for six scales, covering both lifetime and past year victimization, witnessing of violence, and total exposure, were all good. These scales were found to have high internal consistency (r=.68 to .93) and test-retest reliability (r=.75 to .94). Evidence of construct validity was provided by the item analysis, which revealed a theoretically sensible ordering of item extremity, and also by analysis of bivariate associations. As expected, younger subjects generally reported less exposure to violence than did older subjects, males reported more exposure than did females, African-American subjects reported higher levels of exposure than did White subjects, violent offenders reported more exposure than did non-offenders, and those living in high crime areas reported more exposure than did those residing in low crime areas. Future areas of investigation and the potential contribution to studies of antisocial behavior and post-traumatic stress disorder are discussed.