Nearly four of every 10 US children and teens have been exposed to violence or abuse over the previous year, a new research unveiled. Researchers collected information on 4,000 US children age 17 and younger through phone interviews over the last two years. The results of the survey are shocking.
Children: the most victimized section of the population
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, just over 37% of kids in the study had been physically assaulted over the previous year, usually by siblings or peers. Almost 10 percent were consequently injured.
Furthermore, approximately 15 percent of US children faced mistreated by the hands of a caregiver or parent, including 5 percent who were physically abused.
According to study leader David Finkelhor, “children are the most victimized segment of the population”. So why is everyone missing the full burden of this? According to Finkelhor, “The problem lays in national crime indicators not looking at the big picture.”
US children physically assaulted and sexually abused
Overall, boys were assaulted by adults and peers about twice as often as girls were. The survey also found that 2 percent of girls overall had been sexually abused or assaulted within the year, those aged 14 to 17, in particular.
The findings published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics were the result of children aged 10 to 17 being questioned about their exposure to violence, crime and abuse. Caregivers answered questions for children aged 9 and younger.
Going beyond the statistics
Experts believe that violence and abuse in childhood are big drivers behind many of the social and health issues we face today, ranging from suicide to crime.
According to Dr. Andrew Adesman, of the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, these statistics should be a wake up call for public health experts and policy makers to ensure that children and adolescents are neither exposed to — nor the victim of — so many different forms of violence.
Various programs can help prevent abuse. These include parent education and psychological support programs, that can prevent family abuse as well as school-based ones to reduce bullying.
For more on preventing the abuse and maltreatment of US children, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.