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Youth Victimization: Prevalence and Implications, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2003
16 pages
Publication Series
This document discusses the types, amount, and effects of childhood victimization in the United States.
A national survey of adolescents was conducted to examine the prevalence of sexual assault, physical assault, physically abusive punishment, and witnessing an act of violence and subsequent effects on mental health, substance use, and delinquent behavior problems. Gender and racial/ethnic specific findings were translated into national estimates. Results of the study show that rates of interpersonal violence and victimization of 12- to 17-year-olds are extremely high, and witnessing violence is considerably more common. Black and Native American adolescents were victimized more than Whites, Hispanics, and Asians in each type of victimization. Much of the violence experienced by youths was perpetrated by peers or someone the victim knew well. Most sexual assaults (86 percent) and physical assaults (65 percent) went unreported. A clear relationship existed between youth victimization and mental health problems and delinquent behavior. Negative outcomes in victims of sexual assault were three to five times the rates observed in non-victims. Girls that witnessed violence were nearly twice as likely as boys to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research is needed to clarify the temporal sequence of victimization; PTSD; substance use, abuse, or dependence; and delinquent behavior among adolescents. Research is also needed to better understand the factors that contribute to the dramatic under-reporting of crime against children and adolescents. 2 exhibits, 3 notes

Date Published: April 1, 2003