More than 1/3 of U.S. Children Assaulted in 2014

One cause related to adult violence is experiencing an assault as a child.

Having been assaulted myself as an adolescent, I know from experience the feelings of humiliation, helplessness, anger and even rage that resulted, plotting a revenge that I was never able to exact.

For most children, the effects of suffering an assault remain personal and are not acted upon.  For some, however, this frustration and anger eventually boils over into violent acts.  Understanding why people act out violently is crucial to crafting believable characters and probable stories.

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As Xiangming Fang, PhD of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia notes, "Some people are caught in a cycle of violence, perhaps beginning with their own abuse as a child and continuing into perpetration or victimization as an adult."

The findings of a related study conducted by Kate M. Scott, Ph.D., and colleagues at University of Otago-Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, suggest that maltreatment, not just the memory of maltreatment, is associated with mental health disorders in young adulthood.

Remember, though, that researchers conclude that child maltreatment is not a clear path to adult crime.  Hyunzee Jung, a University of Washington research scientist, said that researchers in a study at UW were not surprised to find a link between officially recorded child maltreatment and later crime. But what was surprising was that that link faded after they took into account other variables: socioeconomic status, gender, race, marital status, age and education. Poverty especially is a major predictor of crime and incarceration. The data lead researchers to believe it's a combination of factors, not just maltreatment, that leads to later involvement in crime.

Here's the story with a link to the original studies in the attribution:
*  *  *  *  *

More than a third of children were
physically assaulted in the last year
More than a third of children and teens 17 and younger experienced a physical assault in the last year, primarily at the hands of siblings and peers, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

Violence against children is a national and international public health and public policy issue. The U.S. Department of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiated in 2008 the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) to provide ongoing estimates of a wide range of violence against youth. Assessments have occurred in three-year intervals in 2011 and now in 2014.

Researcher David Finkelhor, Ph.D., of the University of New Hampshire, Durham, and co-authors analyzed data from the survey for 4,000 children and adolescents (17 and younger) to provide current estimates of exposure to violence, crime and abuse. Survey information was collected in telephone interviews (from August 2013 to April 2014) with caregivers and young people.

Key findings (that respondents reported occurred in the past year):
  • 40.9 percent of children and youth had more than one direct experience of violence, crime or abuse;
    • 10.1 percent had six or more and
    • 1.2 percent had 10 or more.
  • 37.3 experienced a physical assault during the study year, primarily from siblings (21.8 percent) and peers (15.6 percent).
    • An assault resulting in injury occurred in 9.3 percent.
  • 5 percent experienced a sexual offense;
  • 1.4 percent experienced a sexual assault
  • Girls ages 14 to 17 were the group at highest risk for sexual assault, with
    • 16.4 percent experiencing a sexual offense and
    • 4.6 percent experiencing sexual assault or sexual abuse. Among this group,
      • 4.4 percent had an attempted or completed rape, while
      • 11.5 percent experienced sexual harassment and
      • 8.5 percent were exposed to unwanted Internet sexual solicitation.
  • 15.2 percent of children and youth experienced maltreatment by a caregiver, including
    • 5 percent who experienced physical abuse.
  • 24.5 percent witnessed violence in the family or community, with
    • 8.4 percent witnessing a family assault.
"Children and youth are exposed to violence, abuse and crime in varied and extensive ways, which justifies continued monitoring and prevention efforts," the study concludes.

Related stories:
Story Source:
  1. Materials provided by The JAMA Network Journals. David Finkelhor, Heather A. Turner, Anne Shattuck, Sherry L. Hamby. Prevalence of Childhood Exposure to Violence, Crime, and Abuse. JAMA Pediatrics, 2015.
  2. Materials provided by Elsevier Health Sciences.  "Victims Of Child Maltreatment More Likely To Perpetrate Youth Violence, Intimate Partner Violence." ScienceDaily, 27 September 2007.
  3. Materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals.  Kate M. Scott; Don R. Smith; Pete M. Ellis. Prospectively Ascertained Child Maltreatment and Its Association With DSM-IV Mental Disorders in Young Adults. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2010
  4. Materials provided by University of Washington, original written by Doree Armstrong.  H. Jung, T. I. Herrenkohl, J. B. Klika, J. O. Lee, E. C. Brown. Does Child Maltreatment Predict Adult Crime? Reexamining the Question in a Prospective Study of Gender Differences, Education, and Marital Status. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2014


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