A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Global Prevalence of Past-Year Violence Against Children, has gathered information from sources around the world to offer a global picture of the treatment of young people. What they’ve found is unacceptable: children and teens face deplorably high rates of violence.
The study includes “physical violence, severe physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, severe psychological (emotional) violence, bullying victimization, fighting, and when reported, exposure to ‘any violence’” perpetrated against two age groups, children 2 to 14 and youth 15 to 17 years old.
While we staunchly condemn such actions against any age range, given our expertise and the difference in circumstances, our infographic looks more closely at the latter group. This demographic, already navigating the difficult waters of young adulthood, faces unique challenges—and has a great capacity for succeeding in spite of them.
The violence carried out on the older age group largely is classified as coming from the community: in educational settings, for example. Perhaps this is why Northern America—where the United States saw 64 school shootings in 2015 alone—has the dubious distinction of leading the numbers.
Whether from Columbine, Cairo, or Chennai, each regional percentage of young people reporting violence exceeds a conscionable measure. The lowest reported rate, 31 percent, in Europe, still means that almost a third of young people there have experienced some form of violence in the past year. We must also consider that many others may be suffering quietly. What is to be done?
The World Health Organization (WHO) cites life skills training as a strategy for preventing violence in community settings. While IYF has emphasized the value of life skills to empower young people for workplace success, here we see it as a way to instill the self-awareness, resilience, and confidence to reduce occurrences, cope with and overcome the physical and emotional stress of violence, and avoid becoming perpetrators.
In the words of WHO, “Life skills can help young people to avoid violence by improving their social and emotional competencies, teaching them how to deal effectively and non-violently with conflict, and helping them to find employment.”