Younger children better protected than teens from violence

Attempts to protect teenagers from violence have been unsuccessful compared to efforts to protect younger children, according to researchers at the University of Warwick. (pic: Rex Features)

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Attempts to protect teenagers from violence have been unsuccessful compared to efforts to protect younger children, according to researchers at the University of Warwick.

The research, which appears in the latest issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood, estimated that between five and 15 infants in England and Wales die a violent death every year, between 15 and 45 children aged 1-14 years, and between 32 and 117 adolescents aged 15-19 years.

Annual violent death rates in infants have dropped drastically between 1974 and 2008, from 5.6 to 0.7 per 100,000, and there has also been a fall in violent deaths of children aged one to 14 years, dropping from 0.6 to 0.2 per 100,000.

Figures for adolescents were less encouraging, however, as the violent death rates of this age group has remained static since the 1970s in girls, while rising in boys.

The authors attributed this difference to the sources of violence.

“In infancy and early childhood, violent deaths primarily occur in the context of the family, with parents the usual perpetrators,” the report said. “As children grow, the risks from those outside the immediate family increase, and in adolescence, it is likely that most violent deaths are perpetrated by extra-familial assailants.

“This may suggest that policies around protecting children from abuse and neglect within the family are having some effect, while those aimed at protecting older youths from violence have so far been unsuccessful.”

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