Two Things You Need to Know About Youth Violence

Youth crime rates are at their lowest in three decades. Every time we turn on the news, it seems like there's another awful case of young people engaging in some horrific violent act, such as a school shooting. It’s easy to get the sense that the world is more dangerous now than it’s ever been. Yet, data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention show a very clear picture: Youth violence is decreasing. The rate of violent youth arrest rates has been on a very steady decline since the mid-1990s [1]. It is now at the lowest rate that we’ve seen in three decades [1]. Take for example: 1  In 2012, youth arrests for violent crime reached its lowest rate in 32 years. [2] The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated … [Read more...]

Family Matters: Parental Rules for Internet Use

Infographic on household rules for Internet use In our recent post on the reality and misperceptions of online "predators," we discussed the importance of talking to kids about Internet safety. However, as an ever-evolving realm that many of us didn't grow up with, the Internet isn't always an easy subject matter to navigate. In our latest infographic, we've illustrated data from our "Growing up with Media" study, highlighting how many, how frequently, and some ways in which parents establish rules regarding their children's Internet rules in their households. Growing up with Media: Household Rules Find us on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Acknowledgments: Thanks to Emilie Chen for her contributions to this blog. The GuwM Study was funded by a … [Read more...]

Family Matters: Youth and Video Games

Infographic on the patterns in youth consumption of video games If your last year’s Christmas shopping list looked anything like mine, then at least one video game was on it. Even if your Christmas shopping didn’t add to the growth of the billion-dollar industry, with 170 million Americans playing video games [1], you probably know at least one person who would have appreciated if video games had been on your Christmas shopping list. But with four of the five top selling video games of 2013 having “M” ratings for Mature audiences [2], and the frightening frequency of media stories concerning video game addictions and video game violence [3, 4], video games are as stigmatized as they are popular. While video game addiction is undoubtedly real [3], and violent video games have been … [Read more...]

New Bill Supports Treatment for Perpetrators of Sexual Assault

While intoxicated and unconscious at a party, 15-year-old Audrie Pott was sexually assaulted by three of her peers. The three assailants drew on her partly exposed body, took photos of her, and then proceeded to share the photos with others online [1]. After using social media to piece together events she had no memory of, Audrie died by suicide [2]. During the court proceedings closed to the public, Audrie’s adolescent assailants were sentenced to 30 to 45 days in juvenile hall [1]. Audrie’s parents expressed disappointment that not only were the sentences too short, but could also be served on weekends [1]. Beyond brief incarceration, her assailants received no other punishment – or behavioral treatment for their sexual offences. Following the court decision, many questioned the … [Read more...]

Teens Online and Sexual “Predators”

Remember when Facebook only allowed people with college email addresses to join its network? It’s kind of hard to believe that was only 10 years ago.  After Facebook opened its doors to high school networks, teens quickly jumped on a bandwagon originally geared for young adults.  A decade later, a recent survey shows that 4 in 5 teens actively use Facebook, with more than a quarter of teens using Facebook “all the time” [1]. With Facebook and other popular social media sites, such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Vine, all integral parts of teen social life [1], many parents feel the imperative to talk to their kids about Internet safety–including the potential for meeting nefarious people intent on exploiting children.  This fear is reinforced with media messages. And although children coming … [Read more...]

Youth Exposure to Violence

National headlines reporting assault, bullying, sexual assault, and many other forms of violence leave us feeling that we are living in an ever more dangerous world.  Contrary to these headlines though, research shows that violence among children and teens is declining. [1] Recent research from the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center suggest that trends in exposure to violence has significantly declined for both children and teens in the past decade. Researchers examined 50 different types of violence and crime that children and teens experience, and what they found was a significant decline from 2003 to 2011 in more than half of the experiences they looked at, including physical intimidation decreasing by, “more than one-third,” sexual victimization … [Read more...]

Family Matters: Youth and Mental Health

Researchers, public policy officials, and the general public as a whole have long been concerned about the consequences of youth’s exposure to violence and sex in the media. Recent studies have documented the explosion of different types of media available to youth [1,2] and the widespread presence of violence in these media outlets. [3] As the Internet and other media types with violent and sexual content become increasingly prominent in the lives of today’s youth, questions have been raised regarding what impact this has on the mental health and well-being of youth. As one of the few national surveys of teens, recent findings from the Growing up with Media study shed light on the psychosocial well-being of adolescents today. Data in the study was obtained from both youth and … [Read more...]

Online Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Youth

For years now, the Internet has been recognized as a powerful tool for social support. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or email, people are using the Internet to communicate with their family and friends every day. This may be an especially important resource for young people who may not have as strong social support from people in real life. A growing community that is using the internet as a support system are lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth. In fact, a study conducted in Australia found that the LGB youth they talked with were more likely to receive support online than offline.[1] Recently, the Center for innovative Public Health along with collaborators at Latrobe University and the University of New Hampshire, set out to better understand how the online world affects the … [Read more...]

The Top 5 Myths of Cyberbullying

We all ‘know’ about cyberbullying. How much of it is true, though? Most of us have heard about it. We are all concerned about it. But not many of us know the facts about it. Cyberbullying has been a recent and rising concern for parents, communities, and healthcare and education professionals alike. For the most part, we learn what we know about cyberbullying from news sources. With stories linking cyberbullying to suicides, schools monitoring social media feeds, and articles warning us about the dangers of the internet, it is no wonder that we are all deeply concerned. Moreover, many of us are confused about what it all means and how we should be educating youth about cyberbullying. In the end, we’re left feeling like all youth are at high risk for cyberbullying; so when it comes to … [Read more...]

The intersection between violent media and weapon carrying

Adolescents who play violent video and computer games are more than four times as likely as those who play non-violent games to carry a weapon to school in the past month. Just over one in twenty high school students have carried a weapon to school in the past month. Research suggests that youth who carry weapons are more likely to be aggressive and engage in behaviors such as fighting, substance use, and being suspended from school. Some studies have also found that youth who are being bullied or otherwise victimized may bring a weapon to school for ‘protection.’ Beyond behavior and experiences, less is known about exposures, particularly the role that violent media may play in weapon carrying. We address this very question in a study just released in the journal, Aggressive … [Read more...]