September | October 2013

Photo of a boy and two girls
New OJJDP Bulletin Examines Youth Delinquency and Victimization

Photo of boy sitting with folded arms and knees. OJJDP has released Children's Exposure to Violence and the Intersection Between Delinquency and Victimization. The latest in OJJDP's National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV) publication series, the bulletin presents survey results regarding the co-occurrence of victimization and delinquency among children who are exposed to violence.

The survey categorized adolescents ages 10 to 17 into one of four groups: those youth who were primarily delinquents and not victims (primarily delinquents), those who were primarily victims and not delinquents (primarily victims), those who were both delinquents and victims (delinquent-victims), and those who were neither victims nor delinquents. Youth identified as delinquent-victims had higher levels of both delinquency and victimization than either the primarily victim or primarily delinquent youth. These youth also suffered more adversities, and had lower levels of social support and higher rates of mental health symptoms. The study points to the importance of early intervention.

The relative sizes of these various groups appear to change as children age; they also differ by gender. The delinquent-victim group among boys is larger overall and increases substantially between ages 13 and 14. This may reflect an increase in delinquent activities around the time they enter high school among boys who had previously been primarily victims. The high school environment may expose them to older delinquent role models and present them with conditions of more independence and less supervision than middle school.

For girls, the pattern change appears to occur earlier (between ages 11 and 12) and is associated with an increase in both victimization and delinquency, but particularly victimization. This is likely related to the onset of puberty in girls and shows up in the data as a particularly marked increase in sexual harassment.

These findings strongly suggest that delinquency- and victimization-prevention efforts need to be marshaled around or before the fifth grade, and they need to include components that minimize sexual aggression and harassment.

Resources:

To order print copies of Children's Exposure to Violence and the Intersection Between Delinquency and Victimization, visit the New Publications page.

More information about NatSCEV is available online. To learn more about OJJDP's NatSCEV publication series, go to the OJJDP Web site.