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Teen Violence Report

What is teen violence?

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Creative Commons via EFL Smart Blog

Teen violence refers to harmful behaviours, whether physical or emotional, which affect young people. The young person can be an offender, a victim or a witness. Some examples of teen violence include, but are not limited to: domestic violence, relationship abuse, gang violence, bullying (including cyber bullying) and hate crime. In the UK, there is no set definition of teenage domestic violence. However, the definition of domestic violence in general was changed in March 2013; the age range was lowered to 16, and there is now an explicit mention of “coercive control” (Guardian, 2012).

What causes teen violence?

The causes of teen violence can vary, and many people disagree on which factors have the biggest influence. We can use research data to determine links between teen violence and other variables, however it is not always possible to know which variable is the cause and which is the effect. For example, research conducted by Queen Mary, University of London found that 85% of screened men in gangs had a personality disorder; it might be that young men with a personality disorder are more likely to join a gang, or that witnessing violent crimes causes the “mental disorder”. The charity Family Lives suggests that bullying is caused by low self-esteem, which in turn might also be as a result of similar factors.

Creative Commons via ssoosay’s photostream

Creative Commons via ssoosay’s photostream

The NSPCC (2009) found a number of patterns in occurrences of domestic violence:

  • A young person who had experienced a lot of violence in their family growing up was more likely to perpetrate domestic violence
  • A person whose peer group frequently engage in violence was also more likely to perpetrate violence (strongest indicator)
  • “Older boyfriends” far more likely to perpetrate domestic violence
  • Incidents of sexual violence much higher in rural schools
  • Violence more likely in same-sex relationships, but sample was small

Key statistics:

  • Over 750,000 children a year witness domestic violence (Department of Health, 2002)
  • Girls aged 10-18 who experienced “histories of parental imprisonment, poor parental mental health, parental substance misuse, or neglect” are three to five times more likely to be involved in gangs, and three times more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. (Centre for Mental Health, 2013)
  • 20,000 young people truant from school every day because of bullying (The Bullying and Truancy Report, 2006)
  • 27% of girls aged 13-17 have experienced sexual violence in their relationships (Bristol University and NSPCC, 2009) 27%
  • More than half of surveyed men in gangs had an anxiety disorder, 85% had a personality disorder and 25% were screened positive for psychosis (Queen Mary, University of London) 85%
  • A survey of teenagers in 2009 by the children’s charity NSPCC found that 75% of girls experienced some form of emotional abuse, 33% of girls experienced some form of sexual abuse and 25% some form of physical abuse (NSPCC, 2009) 75%
  • British Crime Survey has recently found that young people are more likely to suffer partner abuse than any other age group, with 12.7% of women and 6.2% of men aged 16-19 having experienced some kind of domestic abuse in the last year 12.7%
  • 38% of young people have been affected by cyber bullying (Government reports, 2013) 38%
  • 11.1% were bullied because of attitudes towards their sexuality (Annual Bullying Survey, 2013) 11.1%

This chart from the Guardian Datablog shows the percentages of 10-17 year-olds involved in the 2011 riots that came “disproportionately from areas with high levels of deprivation”; further suggesting that poverty plays a role in youth crime.

What can we do to help stop teen violence?

In 2010 the government invested £2 million in an advertising  campaign against teenage domestic violence (BBC, 2010). The issue is gaining more and more notoriety all the time. For example, charities like Tender have started to run their own workshops on the topic.

However there is still more to be done:

  • More research into the teen violence: currently NSPCC research dominates discussions on teen violence. We need different voices and experiences for a complete picture of the situation
  • Early intervention: more investment is needed for parents and families of high-risk children, supplying them with education, employment and training opportunities. Schools and teaching professionals also need to be made more aware of the signs and symptoms of teen violence
  • Access to safe and secure support services for teenagers:  more services should be publicised for young victims and witnesses of teen violence to encourage them to speak up against these crimes
  • Using social enterprises to end gang crime: these organisations are ideally placed to addressissues of gang violence because they are locally based and can tackle the problem directly within their communities