Evidence of witnessed community violence in children's drawings

Hilary D. Garland (2005)

Children's exposure to community violence is a rising social concern due to its impact on children's ongoing development and future behavior. Research literature cites a strong correlation between a child's witnessing community violence and later committing community violence. This paper explores the impact of witnessed community violence on children within their drawings. Since children in this study reported varying levels of witnessed community violence, this paper hypothesized that the more witnessed violence a child was exposed to, the more violent themes would appear in other aspects of his life, such as drawings. The drawings of children who have self-reported witnessing community violence were analyzed and assessed for violent content, then compared to the self-reported amount of violence the child witnessed. As well, the stories that the children used to describe their drawings were analyzed and compared for the presence and absence of violent themes and indicators. Implications of using drawings as an assessment tool for children exposed to traumatic events are discussed.