Any form of violence against children and youngsters was decisively banned in 1997 with the abolition of the right to inflict corporal punishment. A new study surveys the extent of physical violence in the home experienced by 15 year old schoolchildren, and shows that violence in the home is still relatively widespread. Our data also suggest that socially vulnerable youngsters are subject to violence to a greater extent than other youngsters.
The extent of violence and conflict situations at home and by other youngsters
Violent acts often stem from conflict situations. A majority of youngsters in our survey assessed the level of conflict at home to be low or moderate, and found their family were generally good at dealing with conflict. In total 20% of youngsters had been subject to physical violence by parents within the past 12 months. One-fifth is a worryingly large proportion. The numbers are no less worrying if we look at how many reported that they have been subject to violence more than once during the last year. A total of 12% at some time had been subject to violence by one or both parents more than once in the last year.
Life outside the home plays an ever greater role during the transition from childhood to adulthood. Outside the home, youngsters are also exposed to violence. Although they primarily experience non-physical reactions to disagreements with peers, around one-quarter report having experienced conflict situations that involved violence. Youngsters are more often subject to violence committed by peers they already know than by peers who are strangers to them. However, our results indicate that violence from peers who are strangers is also relatively common.
Socially vulnerable youngsters
Our figures show that some groups in society are more vulnerable than others. We see a clear correlation between social vulnerability and vulnerability to violence. There is no simple way of measuring social vulnerability and we have therefore used different ways of doing so. Respondents who are not thriving, respondets who do not feel they are doing well in school, and respondents who do not expect to complete an academic education after primary and lower secondary school, are more often subject to violence. Our figures also show a correlation between parents’ educational level and attachment to the labour market and the degree to which youngsters are vulnerable to violence. If their parents are in jobs, youngsters are less subject to violence, and the higher the parents’ level of education, the less youngsters are subject to violence. Our survey therefore shows that socially vulnerable youngsters are at greater risk of being subject to violence. However, our study also shows that a great number of children and youngsters grow up under difficult circumstances without being subject to violence.
Violence across time and in several relations
Our material shows that there are some youngsters who live with violence over longer periods. We looked at the degree to which the schoolchildren were subject to violence when they were 11-12 years old and violence committed by parents against them within the past 12 months. Among the youngsters who had not been subject to violence at 11-12 years old, ‘only’ 15% had been subject to violence within the past 12 months. Among the youngsters who had been subject to violence at 11-12 years old, 80% had also been subject to violence within the past 12 months. We can therefore conclude that some youngsters are subject to violence repeatedly over longer periods of time. Similarly, our analyses reveal that the group of youngsters who are subject to violence over longer periods of time, are moreover subject to violence from several sources. Almost half of youngsters who had been subject to violence by parents at 11-12 years old (regardless of whether they had been subject to violence by parents within the past 12 months), are also exposed to violence by other youngsters. For a vulnerable group of youngsters, violence is therefore a more permanent condition of life throughout their childhood.
Data and method:
This report surveys the extent of violence against youngsters. We concentrated on physical violence against 14-15-year-old schoolchildren and performed the analysis on the basis of 1,042 questionnaire responses. The response rate from the pupils from the participating schools was 86.6%.