Academic journal article Fordham Urban Law Journal

The Snowball Effect of Crime and Violence: Measuring the Triple-C Impact

Academic journal article Fordham Urban Law Journal

The Snowball Effect of Crime and Violence: Measuring the Triple-C Impact

Article excerpt

      Introduction                                      2 I.    The Scope and Prevalence of the Triple-C Impact   3 II.   Identifying Gaps in Law and Policy               19        A. Statutory Mapping                            21        B. Statutory Application                        24        C. Root Causes                                  27 III.  Understanding the Consequences                   34        A. Criminal Justice                             35        B. Substance Abuse                              47        C. Mental Health                                45        D. Physical Health                              50        E. Education                                    55        F. Economic Weil-Being                          60        G. Methodological Limitations                   64 IV.   The Spill-Over Effect                            65       Conclusions                                      67       Appendix: 50-State Survey Results                70 


When a snowball starts rolling down a snowy hill, it continues to exponentially grow and gain momentum, unless stopped by an external force. The effects of crime on children assume a similar pattern. If not brought to a halt by intervention or treatment, the effects can linger and escalate throughout the child's life into adulthood. Crime impacts all aspects of the individual's life, ranging from physical and mental health to fundamental life outcomes, including employment, education, and economic well-being. As is true in many different contexts, timing is everything:

[V]iolence experienced during childhood and adolescence may be particularly damaging to health over time. This is because childhood and adolescence are the periods in which important personal and psychological resources that guide cognition and decision-making, and ultimately influence health, are typically developed.... [W]hereas violence experienced at other stages of life might ultimately have relatively fewer life course consequences. (1) 

Comprehensive Childhood Crime Impact, or "Triple-C Impact," is a term we coined to embody the distinct effects that direct and indirect exposures to crime have on children. (2) This Article aims to gauge and measure the devastating harm that results from the states' failure to provide effective intervention to millions of affected children nationwide, thus enabling the Triple-C Impact snowball to continue careening down the steep slope.

Part I of the Article introduces the foundation and pillars of the Triple-C Impact. It also elaborates on the scope and prevalence of the Triple-C Impact problem in our society today. Part II illuminates the existing failures and gaps in states' response to this problem by examining the results of a comprehensive fifty-state survey. This Part also identifies and analyzes the root causes of these deficiencies in states' responses. Relying on empirical evidence and data, Part III provides a detailed explanation of the consequences and risks of the abovementioned gaps in state response, and outlines the pathways leading to these adverse outcomes. Part IV discusses the "spillover effect"--how these issues reach beyond individual children to our society as a whole. Conclusions will follow.


Informed by scientific findings, the Triple-C Impact hinges on a set of factors that differentiate children from adults. (3) Evidence shows that the timing of exposure to crime is a critical factor in determining the level of risk for long-term harm. (4) Despite common misperceptions, children are not merely miniature adults--many more substantive differentiators are at play besides physical size. From a physiological and anatomical perspective, a child's brain is extremely malleable during the early years of life. (5) The plasticity of a child's central nervous system leads the human brain to be dramatically affected by early experiences. …

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