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Young people’s experiences of violence
Youth Endowment Fund finds majority of teens have seen real life acts of violence on social media in the last 12 months.

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Children, violence & vulnerability

A new report from the Youth Endowment Fund explores the ways in which violence – and fear of violence – is shaping children’s lives. Children, violence and vulnerability 2022 combines a survey of 2,025 children and young people with a review of national statistics.

The context

Data about young people’s experiences of violence is limited. The Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW), which surveys around 2,000 children, provides a picture of levels of violence – but not of the ways that fear of violence shapes children’s behaviour. The report aims to fill this gap by a survey of over 2.000 young people.

The report also contains a summary of the national available data on violence and vulnerabilities. The Youth Endowment Fund intends to report this research in the future to try to identify which initiatives are successful in reducing youth violence.

Definition of violence

When asking children about their experiences of violence, the researchers used the following definition:

“By violent crime, we mean the use of force or threat of force against another person or people, for example punching someone, threatening someone with a weapon, or mugging someone. This also includes sexual assault, which is when somebody intentionally touches someone in a sexual way without their consent.”

Included in this definition are:

  • Sexual assault: 5% of teenagers reported being the victim of sexual assault in the last 12 months (this rises to 8% for girls).
  • Being threatened by a weapon: 5% reported being threatened or assaulted with a weapon in the last 12 months (this rises to 6% for boys).
  • Being assaulted, including on school premises: for example, being pushed to the floor and punched by another pupil.
  • Being stabbed.


Key Findings

The survey, which was undertaken on a nationally representative basis made the following key findings.

  • 14% of teenage children had been a victim of violence in the last 12 months 
  • 39% of teens had been a victim or witness of violence in the last 12 months
  • 55% of teens said they’d seen real life acts of violence on social media in the last 12 months. 24% said they’d seen children carrying, promoting, or using weapons.
  • 65% of teens said they’d changed their behaviour to keep themselves safe from violence in the last 12 months. 14% had been absent from school out of fear. A further 14% said it caused them to lose concentration, because of worry. 16% avoided going to a social event. And 2% even said that their fear had led to them carrying a weapon.
  • 26% want to see changes to policing (such as more patrols) to address violence, alongside more youth clubs and activities (15%) and drug and alcohol services (10%).

The review of national statistics showed that:

  • Violence was down in the years before the Covid-19 pandemic. 0-17 knife related hospital admissions fell 7% between 2018/19 and 2019/20.
  • During the pandemic, violence fell; robberies decreased by 34%, homicides by 20% and 0-17 hospital knife related hospital admissions by 14% between 2019/20 and 2020/21.
  • As restrictions eased, some forms of violence have returned to pre-pandemic rates while others haven’t. Robberies remain 27% below the rate in 2019/20 but homicides of 13-17-year-olds in London are higher in 2021 than in 2019.
  • Black children are increasingly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Black children make up 4% of 10–17-year-olds, 15% of arrests, 18% of children stopped and searched and 29% of children in custody – up from 17% in 2011/12.

As part of this research the Youth Endowment Fund also interviewed young people and youth offending team workers, to see how the data matches their experiences and will
be publishing more details of this qualitative research in the coming months.


Thanks to Ross Sneddon for kind permission to use the header image in this post which was previously published on Unsplash.

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2 Responses

  1. It would be interesting to see stats if Peace Education was introduced to School curriculums. The IED has produced invaluable global data on the benefits of peace which are easily understood and make sense for governments to have a ministry for peace. A United Nations International Peace Education Day could provide a platform upon which Schools, Colleges, and Universities can introduce non-religious Peace Education Programs supported by those organizations currently focused on Peace; some of which have proven, evidence-based programmes that with proper support fit relatively seamlessly into curricula.

  2. Peace Education would be wonderful. Schools will say they don’t have time, but where there is a will……….

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