‘Children are exposed to violence every day in their homes, schools and communities’
Juvenile delinquency and victimization is widespread among youth aged 10-17, and early intervention is needed to cope with the problem, a federal study reports.
The report examined four categories of juvenile delinquency and victimization:
Those who were primarily delinquents and not victims
Those who were primarily victims and not delinquents
Those who were both delinquents and victims
And, those who were neither victims nor delinquents
Juvenile delinquents are sometimes victims too, but not always, according to the U.S. Department of Justice: National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (www.ojp.usdoj.gov).
“Children are exposed to violence every day in their homes, schools and communities,” according to the report. “… Such exposure can cause them significant physical, mental and emotional harm with long-term effects that can last well into adulthood.”
When juveniles are both delinquents and victims, they show a higher rate of victimization than juveniles who are primarily victims, the study concluded. Girls who are both delinquent and victims experience a particularly high level of sexual victimization, data showed.
In addition, juveniles who are both delinquent and victims demonstrate more delinquency than the primarily delinquent groups. Improving strategies for identifying and helping this group of children are an obvious priority, according to the study.
Juveniles who are both delinquents and victims receive less social support and experience larger rates of unhealthy parenting, according to the report. They are subject to more life adversities and mental health issues than juveniles who are primarily victims or delinquents, the study found.
The disparities in victimization are not attributed to socioeconomic status, ethnicity, family structure, disability status, school performance, and physical features, the study reported.
Researchers point to early intervention as a good place to start fixing the disparity and suggest an emphasis on components that decrease sexual aggression and harassment. Intervention should occur before the fifth grade when pubertal changes in girls occur, the report states.
Juveniles’ transitions to high school are another problem-area as the report noted that there is less supervision and more independence for high school students than middle school students. The result is that the high school experience may expose juveniles who are both delinquent and victims to older delinquent role models.