About Us

Childhood exposure to violence has real and tangible impacts on our children - both nationwide and here in Multnomah County.

Repeated exposure to trauma and violence can impact brain development and increase the risk of serious health problems, mental health issues, and risky behavior later in life. Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress; fail or have difficulty in school; and engage in criminal activity.

Often, children who display such behaviors are written off as “bad kids,” when in fact those behaviors are symptoms of trauma. With the right supports, children and youth impacted by violence can thrive.

We know what the outcomes are for children exposed to violence. Let’s do something about it.

When more than 60 percent of kids in the U.S. have been exposed to crime, abuse, and violence—in their homes, schools, and communities—addressing childhood exposure to violence requires innovative action. It requires you.

Be part of the solution. Be an adult kids can trust.

It’s easy to think that one person can’t do anything about the problem of childhood exposure to violence. But by being a reliable and friendly presence in the life of a child, you are making a meaningful impact. Even something small can be the start of something big.

Every child in Multnomah County matters—and you can help a child feel valued by building community around them and being present in their life.

What is Multnomah County Doing?

Responding to children and youth who have been impacted by violence, and preventing violence before it happens, is a complex issue that requires multiple solutions.

Multnomah County Defending Childhood employs a wide range of strategies from primary prevention of childhood exposure to violence, to funding direct intervention services for impacted children and families.

Our primary strategies include:

  • Work force development: making sure that professionals who spend time with children and youth have the tools and skills to recognize and respond to childhood exposure to violence. We have a particular focus on supporting educational settings in this area, promoting trauma informed schools.
  • Systems alignment: working with sectors like mental health, education, health care, early childhood, human services and juvenile justice to make sure that we are all developing polices and programs that best support children, youth and families impacted by violence and trauma.
  • Primary prevention and public awareness: elevating the issue of childhood exposure to violence so that communities are educated, and have what they need to prevent violence before it happens.