Criminology Study Shows Crime Against Children Often Goes Unreported

A survey of more than 4,500 children age 10 to 17 reveals more than half of serious crimes against young people are never reported to adults or authorities. Led by researchers at the University of New Hampshire, the study found 58% of kids surveyed had been victims of some type of criminal act in the past 12 months. Of those who'd been victimized, however, only 46% said authorities knew about the incidents.

The most commonly unreported crimes tend to be those committed by other children or those related to certain sexual misconduct, the study found. Kids were statistically less likely to report criminal assaults by siblings or peers. Dating violence, flashing or other sexual exposure, and statutory rape were also reported less frequently than average. Crimes most likely to be reported included bullying (51.5%), neglect (47.8%) and theft (46.8%).

When crime went unreported, the study found that young people and their families frequently chose to deal with the incidents in an informal way, often afraid of the consequences of getting police or court officials involved. This, however, often prevented victims from getting the emotional and psychological counseling and rehabilitation they may have needed and also kept the criminals involved from being brought to justice and potentially removed from society.

Criminologists are often faced with a hidden problem when trying to combat abuse and violence against children, said the authors of the study. The fear of retaliation and intimidation is often very strong among young victims, and victimization studies consistently show that a tremendous amount of abuse goes completely unreported.

To help more young people feel comfortable coming forward to report criminal activity, the study also recommends a focus on crimes committed by peers and family members, as these show a potent combination of emotional damage and a low probability of being reported to authorities.

A degree in criminology can help you advance in the criminal justice field or move into other areas that deal with criminal behavior. Regis University offers online courses in Criminology at the bachelor's and master's level. Get more information about the Regis Criminology degree programs by calling an Admissions Advisor at 877-820-0581.

Source: "School, police and medical authority involvement with children who have experienced victimization," Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, January 2011 issue.

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