University of Pittsburgh
January 9, 2001



Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 10 -- A researcher at Pitt's School of Social Work is recruiting children from Wilkinsburg for a study on childrens' exposure to violence, what it means to them, and problems they may have as a result.

Professor Kathryn Collins hopes to interview 100 voluntary participants, ages

6 - 12, for the Children's Attributions and Trauma Study (CATS). The project, to be based at the Wilkinsburg Family Support Center, will explore the extent to which a child has been exposed to violence in the home, school or community; to what extent the child shows symptoms of trauma; and what the child thinks is the suspected cause of the violence -- be it self-blame or guilt, personal vulnerability, empowerment, or the perception of the world as dangerous.

"While the social and emotional effects of exposure to community violence have been explored, very little is known about the mediators between the stressor of violence and the impact on the child," said Collins.

"This study will examine the relationship between the children's feelings about the cause of the violence and any symptoms of trauma."

Information derived from this research will be used to increase the understanding of the mechanisms by which violence exposure leads to trauma symptoms. It may also benefit service delivery and violence prevention efforts for children.

Collins has conducted research in children's perception of community violence and, as a clinical social worker, has worked with children and adolescents who have been victims of trauma.

Prior to teaching at Pitt, Collins taught social work courses at the University of South Carolina and the University of Wyoming, and has coordinated and implemented violence prevention programs within three diverse school systems in North Carolina and Louisiana.

For more information about the study, or about how to participate, call the Wilkinsburg Family Support Center at 412-871-7948 or Kathryn Collins at


Participants and their parents will be asked to sign informed consent forms. Each child will be interviewed for one hour, and the parent and child will each receive a $10 gift certificate for K-Mart for their participation.