Researchers found declines among 27 of the 50 types of assault examined. Among the most significant decreases was in incidents involving weapons, which fell by 36% over the study period. Sexual victimization of children declined 25% from 2003 to 2011, according to the study, and the incidence of rape was down by 43%.
“The overarching epidemiologic picture seems to show substantial drops in violence and abuse exposure during the 1990s, with continuing declines during the 2000s that have not been reversed by the economic adversities of the 2008 recession,” the study concluded.
The declines coincided with a proliferation of community- and school-based programs targeting bullying, violence and sexual abuse, the authors note. The percentage of children using psychiatric medication, meanwhile, rose from 5.6% in 2008 to 7.8% in 2011.
Researchers also cite the increased amount of time young people spend communicating and socializing via technology, limiting the number of opportunities for physical violence.
In spite of the trends, violence remains a leading cause of death among the country's youth population. Homicide was the fourth leading cause of death among 10- to 14-year-olds in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the third-leading cause of death among adults ages 20 to 24.
Though the murder rate for young people has declined over the past two decades, from 15.2 for every 100,000 people in 1994 to 7.5 per 100,000 in 2010, the rate remained higher than that of the general population, which was 5.3 per 100,000 in 2010, according to CDC data.
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