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Jan 7 -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invites public comment on its request to OMB to approve the pilot implementation of the Violence Against Children and Youth Survey (VACS). Comments should be submitted by February 10, 2021.
 
In the US, many youth are the victims of multiple forms of violence and abuse. An estimated 10 million children in the US have experienced child abuse and neglect. Each day, about a dozen youth are victims of homicide and more than 100 times that number (~1,400) are treated annually in emergency rooms for physical assault injuries.

Youth are also involved in high levels of peer violence, which is one of the leading causes of death for people ages 10-24. A body of research has shown that the impact of violence against children goes far beyond the initial incident, and that those who have experienced emotional, physical, and sexual violence can experience severe short to long-term health and social consequences. Given the serious and lasting impact on children, it is critical to understand the magnitude and nature of violence against children in order to develop effective prevention and response strategies.
 
Currently, data to guide state and local violence prevention and response efforts in the United States are quite limited. While some studies have provided information on the risks and impact on violence against children, they are mostly limited in scale and cannot be generalized to the scope of violence against youth across the US or for specific regions.

VACS is a methodology which CDC has conducted in 24 countries globally to measure the magnitude of physical, sexual, and emotional violence against children as well as associated risk and protective factors. VACS has contributed to research throughout the world, demonstrating the high prevalence of violence against children in a variety of countries and cultures, and have proven to be critical tools that can fill data gaps in ways that are vital to informing strategic planning and evidence-based public health efforts in many countries.  
 
However, VACS have not been implemented in the U.S., and the existing representative datasets of violence against youth in the U.S. have significant limitations that prevent the data from being actionable for prevention planning by public health departments at the local level. VACS in the U.S will help fill this gap with rigorous probability-based estimates of the problem of youth violence combined with an internationally tested approach to embed the VACS survey into the local strategic planning process of local public health partners.
 
The present project will implement a pilot testing for the adapted VACS survey and methodology in two contexts: (1) a representative sample of 13-24 year old youth in Baltimore and (2) a convenience sample of 13-24 year old youth in rural Garrett County, Maryland to test the VACS in-person methodology in a rural location. Data will be collected through in-person probability-based household surveys, which will be conducted using a combination of interviewer-administration and Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interview Software on tablets. Data will be analyzed using statistical software to account for the complexity of the survey design to compute weighted counts, percentages, and confidence intervals using probability-based survey data at the local level.
 
The findings from this pilot study will be used primarily to better understand the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing VACS in the U.S., which will ultimately determine the magnitude of violence against children and underlying risk and protective factors in order to make recommendations to national and international agencies and non-governmental organizations on developing strategies to identify, treat and prevent violence against children.   
 
NORC will be conducting the VACS pilot, which is scheduled to go in the field October 2021.
 
FR notice inviting comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/01/07/2021-00002/agency-forms-undergoing-paperwork-reduction-act-review
CDC submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202012-0920-010  Click IC List for proposed youth participant and head of household questionnaires. Click View Supporting Statement for narrative on purpose, methods, and plans.   
 
Point of Contact: Leah Gilbert, MD, MSPH, Medical Officer, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC  770-488-1572  wij4@cdc.gov   
 
For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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answered ago by (160 points)
I am a research volunteer with the Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) in the Office of the Texas Governor. I work with Dr. Tomi Grover who is the North Texas Administrator. Dr. Grover's work in the Governor's office and her prior work with TraffickStop and other initiatives have successfully implemented a VACS model in Texas. Of note, the CSTT initiative established active partnerships between local and state agencies and non-governmental organizations to identify victims of abuse, prevent victimization of vulnerable populations, provide sustainable advocacy and support services to survivors, and redress failed or inefficient policies, social protections, and legislation in Texas. Every action, initiative, and decision is guided by evidence-based research in human trafficking, child victimization and exploitation, and trauma-based care and support services, methods, and practices as children of abuse suffer poly-victimization leading sexual exploitation and trafficking. I believe the model employed by CSTT is a strong use case that evinces the feasibility and efficacy of a VACS model in the United States.
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