Violence Against Children at Lowest in Annual Survey
That’s right folks – it’s that time again when we learn the results of Cardiff University’s annual violence report for England and Wales.
For the seventh consecutive year, the figures have improved from the year before. Violence-related injuries are now at their lowest levels since the study began in 2001.
The violence research group examines data collected from almost 120 hospital units across England and Wales, including A&Es, NHS walk-in centres, and minor injury units from 2014. The results showed that 10% fewer people visited those places for violence injuries than in 2013. And this is a similar story to last year, which saw a fall of 12% from the year before.
Unlike last year, where the biggest reduction in such hospital visits were seen in the 18-to-30 male bracket, youngsters saw the highest reductions. The two groups, children up to ten and young people between the ages of 11 and 17, were both down by almost 20% since last year’s report.
It is thought that there are various factors contributing to these numbers. For example, a change in children’s activities over the last couple of years has seen less of them gathering in the streets. There are also better detection and reporting practices in place, as well as wider public awareness of violence against children and what to look out for.
“It seems likely that work at all levels to improve child safeguarding… is at the root of this welcome trend,” the report read.
A spokesperson for the NSPCC also welcomed the news but said that there is “still a long way to go to ensure that children are protected from harm”.
Children and adolescents are not the only ones to have seen improvements, and the team has again attributed their findings to a reduction in binge drinking. However, there is some concern that if alcohol prices were to become cheaper, the figures might flip around and start to rise.
“As we emerge from the economic downturn, we must ensure that the affordability of alcohol does not increase,” declared Professor John Shepherd, who leads the study.
Cardiff and Vale University Board Clinical Board Director Dr Richard Evans agreed, adding that the health board had been working closely with the police and “night time economy”. “We have been very fortunate that violence-related injuries have been relatively infrequent in Cardiff in recent years,” he said.
But the reduction in binge drinking isn’t the only factor thought to have played a role in the study results. Professor Shepherd explained that better street lighting and the use of plastic cups instead of glasses in pubs would also have contributed to less violence.
There have also been specific crime-reduction initiatives, and more scientific, data-driven policing, which has seen shared information on community violence between police, the NHS, and local governments.
Apart from a 7% rise in 2008, there have been decreases in violence across England and Wales every year since 2001, and Professor Shepherd pointed out a decline of 30% alone since 2010. He added that child and adolescent attacks being down by a fifth was the most encouraging result from the survey.
We could thank the rise in alcohol prices, better detection methods, street lighting, and crime-prevention units. Whatever the cause of this continuous fall in violent crimes, let’s hope it’s a trend that keeps going until they are eradicated.