Adolescence a Bigger Battlefield Than Most Adults Know, Study Finds

Filed under: In The News, Bullying, Research Reveals: Teens

adolescence battlefield picture

Nearly 60 percent of teens reported abuse in a recent study, but less than half reported it. Credit: Getty


If Archie comics were real, Archie would pound the snot out of Jughead just for wearing that stupid hat and Reggie would slip Veronica a roofie.

And Mr. Weatherbee, the school principal, would never hear anything about it.

That's because adolescent life is never as idyllic as adults like to paint it. Far from it. In fact, Business Week reports that nearly 60 percent of kids between 10 and 17 say they have been the victims of violence, abuse or crime in the past year.

Not that police, parents or school officials know what's going on -- fewer than half these kids say they report such incidents.

Researchers led by David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire, surveyed more than 4,500 teens and parents in 2008.

Some 58 percent said they'd been victimized in the past year, including instances of bullying. However, only 46 percent of kids said authorities had a clue about what was happening.

Authorities were alerted to things such as sexual assault, kidnapping and gang or group assaults, but kids generally kept emotional bullying, neglect and theft to themselves. They were also less likely to report date and statutory rape, sexual exposure and assaults by peers and siblings.

"Childhood/adolescent abuse is frequently described as a hidden problem, and victimization studies regularly have shown that much abuse goes undisclosed," the study authors write. "The hidden nature of childhood victimization has multiple sources. Clearly, children and adolescents are easily intimidated by offenders and fear retaliation."

The authors say teens and their parents often choose to keep the cops and courts of of it, dealing with incidents inside the family.

"The study also shows that a considerable portion of childhood/adolescent exposure to victimization is still unknown to authorities," the authors write. "The study suggests that outreach needs to be particularly enhanced toward boys, Hispanics and higher-income groups. It also suggests that disclosure promotion should be directed toward episodes that involve family members and peer perpetrators."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.