Child and youth physical assault, assault-related injury, sexual assault, and maltreatment by caregivers have not increased significantly since a 2008 study, researchers reported. However, nearly half of children interviewed were exposed to violence.
“The variety and scope of children’s exposure to violence, crime, and abuse suggest the need for better and more comprehensive tools in clinical and research settings for identifying these experiences and their effects,” they wrote.
The interview-based study included data on 4,503 participants from the 2011 National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence. Caregivers of children aged 0 to 9 years gave interview information and children aged 10 to 17 years provided their own information.
Researchers found that 41.2% of participants experienced a physical assault in the past year and 10.1% had an assault-related injury. Boys experienced more assaults compared with girls (45.2% vs. 37.1%). Boys were more likely to experience assault with injury than girls (13% vs. 7.1%), assault by a gang or group (2.5% vs. 0.9%), and nonsexual assault to the genitals (9.3% vs. 1%). However, girls experienced more dating violence than boys (4.7% vs. 1.9%).
Researchers also found that 2.2% of participants experienced sexual assault or abuse. However, 10.7% of girls aged 14 to 17 years experienced sexual assault or abuse, and 22.8% experienced sexual victimization.
According to researchers, 13.8% of participants experienced maltreatment by caregivers and 3.7% of them experienced physical abuse. Researchers found that emotional abuse was the most common: 8% overall in the past year, and a 25.7% lifetime rate for those aged 14 to 17 years.
“Large gaps exist in the coverage of children’s exposure to violence and abuse,” the researchers wrote. “Given its importance, priority should be given to filling these gaps.”
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.