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Links between deprivation and risk of violence-related injury

18 September 2017

Worried looking young woman

Adolescent girls from deprived areas are at greater risk of interpersonal violence than girls from more affluent areas because they feel distrusted by their parents, suggests a study by Cardiff University.

Lead author of the study and Director of the Violence Research Group at Cardiff University, Professor Jonathan Shepherd, said: “We discovered that deprivation makes adolescent girls six times more likely to suffer violence-related injury than girls in affluent areas. What we wanted to understand with our new study were some of the reasons for this increased risk...”

“Our research suggests that girls attending schools in more deprived areas tend to perceive their parents as untrusting and strict, leading the adolescent girls to be less than honest with their parents regarding their activities and consequently more likely to find themselves in a situation where they could be a victim of violence.”

Professor Jonathan Shepherd Professor Emeritus in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

“We also found that a lack of access to organised leisure activities and facilities plays a key role, resulting in girls in deprived areas spending less of their time under the supervision of others and more likely to consume alcohol without parental knowledge.”

Area-level deprivation

The researchers interviewed focus groups of girls aged 14-16 years attending secondary schools in South Wales. Schools were recruited based on area-level deprivation.

The interviews also revealed that girls from affluent areas typically obtained alcohol from their parents who were able to control the type, strength and quantity of alcohol consumed, while girls from deprived areas obtained alcohol from a variety of sources and often purchased it themselves, enabling access to a wider range of alcoholic drinks that would likely be consumed in an unsupervised environment.

Professor Shepherd said: “Alcohol intoxication has been identified as a significant risk factor for violence victimisation and violence-related injury, so it’s no surprise that adolescent girls whose alcohol use is not regulated by parents are more at risk.”

Globally, interpersonal violence was the fifth commonest cause of death and disability among 15-29 year olds in 2012. In England and Wales, an estimated 22,957 children and adolescents attended emergency departments in 2016 seeking medical treatment following violence re-related injury.

The research ‘Links between deprivation and risk of violence-related injury: a qualitative study to identify potential causal mechanisms’ is published in Journal of Public Health.

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