Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS)

CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention has funded a pilot of the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS) for the first time in the United States. CDC has partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department's Office of Youth and Trauma Services, and NORC at the University of Chicago for this 3-year project. Since 2007, CDC has led 24 global VACS in countries across Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. VACS has revealed valuable data on how children experience violence and informed key priorities to prevent violence before it starts. To date, no comparable data source exists in the United States.

What is the Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys?

  • VACS, led by CDC as part of the Together for Girls (TfG) partnership, are nationally representative household surveys of male and female youth ages 13-24.
  • Youth are interviewed about experiences with sexual, physical, and emotional violence as well as risk and protective factors, health outcomes, and use of support services.

Why is this important?

  • Timely and actionable data are needed at the state and local levels to understand the burden of all forms of violence against young people and guide violence prevention efforts. Currently, no data source provides the same level of comprehensive coverage of violence, its contexts, and health consequences among youth as VACS.
  • A VACS adaptation in the U.S. can also enhance understanding of critical issues affecting young people, such as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), opioid misuse, and suicide by providing baseline information to track progress and implementation of cross-cutting violence prevention efforts.
  • A VACS adaptation in the U.S. will gather data from children and youth directly. This approach can reduce data quality issues from retrospective data collection and provide reliable population-based estimates of multiple forms of violence. 
  • The project is a pilot adaptation that will result in protocols and tools for future implementation of VACS in other contexts and settings in the U.S.