Who Knows When Kids are Victimized? Schools Do

Posted on May 1, 2012 by


The Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention (OJJDP) just released a bulletin titled “Child and Youth Victimization Known to Police, School, and Medical Authorities.” Perhaps the most interesting finding is the size of the discrepancy between schools and police knowing about child victimizations.

  • Image: CrimeDime.com

    In general, school officials knew about victimization episodes considerably more often (42 percent) than police (13 percent) or medical personnel (2 percent). However, police were the most likely to know about kidnapping, neglect, and sexual abuse by an adult.

This makes sense in that schools see children on a regular basis, whereas police have to be called. Too, it’s not unusual for something that happens at school to be brushed away or labeled “normal youthful misbehavior” when the very same action, say, a punch in the face, would immediately be termed an assault outside of school property.

Other interesting findings include the following:

  • Thirteen percent of children victimized in the previous year had at least one of their victimizations known to police, and 46 percent had one known to school, police, or medical authorities.
  • Authorities knew about a majority of serious victimizations, including incidents of sexual abuse by an adult, gang assaults, and kidnappings, but they were mostly unaware of other kinds of serious victimizations, such as dating violence and completed and attempted rape.
  • More victimization and abuse appears to be known to authorities currently than was the case in a comparable 1992 survey.

It’s worth thinking about how we can better understand and respond to children and youth victims.