By Frank James
Most children are exposed to enormous amounts of violence, either directly or indirectly, according to a survey of children released Wednesday by the Justice Department.
The survey, which the Justice Department calls "the most comprehensive survey to date of children's exposure to violence in the United States," found that more than 60 percent of the children surveyed were "exposed to violence in the past year and more than 1 in 10 reported 5 or more exposures."
Nearly half of the surveyed children, 46.3 percent to be exact, were physically assaulted within the past year. A lot of these assaults were by siblings. The good news there, according to the survey, is that those attacks appeared to peak fairly early, when the kids who reported them were between six and nine years old.
Nearly 20 percent of children reported being bullied. It peaked during the same age range as physical assaults, six to nine. When it came physical bullying, boys were targeted more than girls though girls experienced more Internet bullying.
Meanwhile, 6.1 percent of children were sexually victimized. The years 14 to 17 were the years where it happened the most. "The most common forms of sexual victimization were flashing or exposure by a peer, sexual harassment, and sexual assault," the survey's authors wrote.
Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned the survey during his appearance at an anti-violence Chicago, calling the portrait it painted "astonishing" and "unacceptable."
It's worth noting that the study doesn't appear to contend with the issue of simulated violence that children are so frequently exposed to, such as video games, television or movies. Nor does it appear that children were asked about real violence in the news. Child psychologists and advocates have long said violence in the media contribute to violent behaviors in children.
The study also didn't appear to ask children if they were the perpetrators of violence. It would have been interesting to see how the perpetrator statistics looked against the victim stats.