Monday, May 19, 2014

Study Finds Substantial Recent Declines in Several Types of Violence Directed at Youth

It looks as if violence perpetrated against America's youth is on a downward trajectory, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics. The study was headed by David Finkelhor, Ph.D., director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, and was based on three national phone surveys of 10,183 children from 2003 to 2011. The researchers used the survey results to track trends in 50 aspects of youth victimization by violence. Even when demographic variables were controlled, there were 27 significant declines and no significant increases in the trends during the eight years included in the analysis. For example, the survey found that attempted or completed rape declined 43 percent, dating violence declined 39 percent, physical assaults in general declined 33 percent, and child maltreatment declined 26 percent.

The researchers offer several possible explanations for their positive findings, including that school-based violence-prevention programs—such as those targeting bullying, interpersonal conflicts, or sexual and dating violence—are working.

"There is no single more preventable and important cause of psychiatric harm to children than exposure to violence," Andrew Gerber, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and a child and adolescent psychiatrist, told Psychiatric News. "It is enormously encouraging to learn that the concerted effort over the past two decades to minimize this exposure appears to be paying off in the form of reduced exposure to violence in our nation's children."

More information about a school program to identify and treat mental health problems before they emerge as more serious issues such as suicide and violence can be found in the Psychiatric News article, "Miami-Dade Schools Adopt Foundation's 'Typical or Troubled?' Program." Information about mental health consequences of bullying can be found in the Psychiatric News article, "Effects of Bullying Don't End When School Does."

(Image: Funny Solution Studio/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.