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VEX-R - Violence Exposure Scale for Children-Revised

A self-report measure of community violence exposure for children aged 4-10 that includes drawings to accompany questions and thermometer-type rating scale. The measure includes questions about minor and severe violence victimization and witnessing violence in the home, school, and neighborhood.




Fox, Nathan, A., & Leavitt, Lewis, A.

Fox, N. A. & Leavitt, L. A. (1995). The Violence Exposure Scale for Children-VEX. College Park, Maryland: Department of Human Development, University of Maryland.

Contact Information: 
Domain Assessed: 
Trauma Exposure/Reminders
Age Range: 
Measure Type: 
Measure Format: 
Structured Interview


Number of Items: 
Average Time to Complete (min): 
Reporter Type: 
Average Time to Score (min): 
Response Format: 

Over the course of a lifetime:  (0=never, 1=one time, 2=a few times, 3=lots of times) 

Materials Needed: 
Sample Items: 
DomainsScaleSample Items
Trauma: Community Violence exposureViolence VictimizationA person pushes or shoves Chris really hard. How many times has a person pushed or shoved you really
Violence WitnessChris sees a person beat up another person. How many times have you seen a person beat up another
Information Provided: 
Areas of Concern/Risks
Continuous Assessment
Raw Scores


Training to Administer: 
Training by Experienced Clinician (less than 4 hours)

Parallel or Alternate Forms

Parallel Forms: 
Alternate Forms: 
Different Age Forms: 
Altered Version Forms: 
Alternative Forms Description: 

1. One version for girls and one for boys. They differ in that the cartoon characters depicted are either male or female.

2. VEX-Preschool Version, used by Shahinfar, Fox, & Leavitt (2000), has fewer items and is for younger children.

3. VEX-R Parent Report: briefly described in Shahinfar et al. (2000).

The VEX-R was modified for use with an Israeli population of children. The name of the cartoon character was changed and several of the items were altered. See Raviv, Raviv, Shimoni, Fox, & Leavitt (1999); Raviv, Erel, Fox, Leavitt, Raviv, Dar, et al. (2001).


Type:RatingStatistCronbach's alphaicsMinMaxAvg
Internal ConsistencyCronbach's alpha0.720.86
References for Reliability: 

There are no interrater statistics in terms of interviewers. The Shahinfar et al. (2000) study compares parents' and children's reports of their children's exposure to violence. So it is comparing the VEX-R with the VEX-R Parent Report and found no significant relationship between Parent and Child reports of exposure to violence.

Content Validity Evaluated: 
References for Content Validity: 

The measure is face valid and asks about similar areas of community violence exposure as other measures of this sort. It was developed based on the Richters & Martinez (1990) measure: "Things I Have Seen and Heard: An Interview for Young Children About Exposure to Violence."

Construct Validity Evaluated: 
Construct Validity: 
Validity TypeNot knownNot foundNonclincal SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Sensitive to ChangeYes
Intervention EffectsYes
Longitudinal/Maturation EffectsYes
Sensitive to Theoretically Distinct GroupsYes
Factorial ValidityYes
References for Construct Validity: 

Children who were found to have experienced exposure to violence on the VEXR were found to have higher internalizing and externalizing symptoms on the CBCL and higher child-reported distress symptoms (Shahinfar et al., 2000). Stein, Zima, Elliott, Burnam, Shahinfar, Fox, & Leavitt (2001) also reported, in their diverse sample of 2,103 foster care children, that being a witness to violence based on the VEX-R did not vary by age, gender, or ethnicity. Violence victimization was associated with higher trauma and depression symptoms with children who witnessed more severe violence (e.g., weapon- or assault-based violence), reporting more PTSD and depression symptoms (assessed by the Children’s Depression Inventory and Levonn: A Cartoon-Based Interview for Assessing Children's Distress Symptoms).

Criterion Validity: 
Not KnownNot FoundNonclinical SamplesClinical SamplesDiverse Samples
Predictive Validity:Yes
Postdictive Validity: Yes
Overall Psychometric Limitations: 

1. Limited psychometric data available.
2. Shahinfar et al. (2000) found poor concordance between VEX-R Parent and Child reports. However, this may be due to differences in parents’ and children's understanding of the items or parents' knowledge of their children's exposure.


Translation Quality: 
Language:TranslatedBack TranslatedReliableGood PsychometricsSimilar Factor StructureNorms AvailableMeasure Developed for this Group
1. Hebrew YesYes

Population Information

Population Used for Measure Development: 

Sample: 40 Caucasian primarily suburban preschool aged children.

Measure was then used in a study by Shahinfar et al. (2000) with 155 African American children: 79 boys and 76 girls, aged 3½-5 from low SES families living in a community just outside Washington DC.

The average family income was less than $7,200, and almost 50% of the sample was entirely supported by public assistance.

Populations with which Measure Has Demonstrated Reliability and Validity: 
Community Violence
Use with Diverse Populations: 
Population Type: Measure Used with Members of this GroupMembers of this Group Studied in Peer-Reviewed JournalsReliableGood PsychometricsNorms AvailableMeasure Developed for this Group
Lower-socioeconomic statusYes
Israeli childrenYes

Pros & Cons/References


This is the only self-report measure of trauma exposure for young children with a parallel Parent Report form.


1. Caution should be used when administering the measure to preschool-aged children because some young children may not have the cognitive maturity to truly understand the items. The authors recommend using probe questions, in addition to the measure, to ensure that children understand that they are being asked about “true life events” rather than violence witnessed on television or in the movies.
2. Very limited psychometric data.

Author Comments :

Author Comments: 

The authors reviewed this review and provided feedback, which was incorporated. They indicated that the Spanish version is available from the authors, and the VEX-R has been used with both group and individual administration. The authors also commented that clinicians have used the instrument to foster discussion with young children about events that they have experienced.


A PsychInfo search (6/05) for “Violence Exposure Scale” or “VEX-R” anywhere revealed
that the measure has been referenced in 5 peer-reviewed journal articles.

1. Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Turner, H., & Hamby, S. (2005). The victimization of children and youth: A comprehensive, national survey. Child Maltreatment: Journal of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, 10 (1), 5-25.

2. Raviv, A., Erel, O., Fox, N. A., Leavitt, L. A., Raviv, A., Dar, I., et al. (2001). Individual measurement of exposure to everyday violence among elementary school children across various settings. Journal of Community Psychology, 29, 117-140.

3. Raviv, A., Raviv, A., Shimoni, H., Fox, N. A., & Leavitt. L. A. (1999). Children’s selfreport of exposure to violence and its relation to emotional distress. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 20, 337-353.

4. Shahinfar, A., Fox, N. A., & Leavitt, L. A. (2000). Preschool children’s exposure to violence: Relation of behavior problems to parent and child reports. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 70, 115-125.

5. Stein, B. D., Zima, B. T., Elliott, M. N. Burnam, M., Shahinfar, A., Fox, N. A., & Leavitt, L. A. (2001). Violence exposure among school-age children in foster care: Relationship to distress symptoms. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 40, 588-594.

Developer of Review: 
Carla Stover, Ph.D.
Editor of Review: 
Madhur Kulkarni, M.S., Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D.
Last Updated: 
Tuesday, April 1, 2014