This chapter focuses on the experiences of crime among children. Specifically, data from the 10 to 15 year olds’ element of the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) are used to analyse the prevalence of violence and theft in this age group, describe the nature of these two types of incident and explore characteristics associated with victimisation.
According to the 2012/13 CSEW, there were an estimated 821,000 incidents of crime experienced by children aged 10 to 15. Boys were more likely to be victims, with 16% having experienced a crime in the previous twelve months, compared to 9% of girls.
Of these 821,000 incidents, 465,000 (57%) were violent incidents and 314,000 (38%) were incidents of theft.
The likelihood of being a victim of violence was most strongly associated with personal characteristics, these were: sex (boys were more likely to be victims than girls), having a long-standing illness or disability, and age (younger children being more likely to be victims).
In contrast to violence, a number of household and area characteristics were associated with theft victimisation, these were: being from a higher income household, living in social rented accommodation and living in a lone-adult household. In addition to these, having a long-standing illness or disability, knowing someone who is or used to be in a gang and being bullied in the last 12 months were also associated with theft victimisation.
Around one fifth (21%) of violent incidents experienced by children resulted in them receiving medical attention.
Mobile phones, clothing, cash and bicycles or bicycle parts together accounted for nearly two thirds (65%) of all items stolen from children.
Around one quarter (26%) of violent incidents were viewed by the victim to be a crime rather than being perceived as either ‘wrong but not a crime’, or ‘just something that happens’. Just over half (52%) of all theft incidents were viewed by the victim as a crime.
This chapter is based on data collected from 10 to 15 year olds who completed the 2012/13 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), with reference made to trends since the 2009/10 CSEW where possible. The survey took a nationally representative sample of 2,879 such children who were randomly selected from households in which an adult was selected for the main survey. Since January 2009, the CSEW has asked children aged 10 to 15 and resident in households in England and Wales about their experiences of crime in the previous 12 months1. The total number of incidents experienced by children has varied each year between the 2009/10 and 2012/13 surveys with no clear trend over time ( Appendix table 1.01 (534 Kb Excel sheet) ). This is likely to be a result of the relatively small sample size and for this reason, with the exception of Appendix table 1.01 (534 Kb Excel sheet) , the statistics presented in this chapter relate to the 2012/13 survey only, and do not show trends over time. Methodological differences also mean that direct comparisons cannot be made between the adult and child data (Millard and Flatley, 2010).
All children who were interviewed were asked questions about their experiences of crime. This chapter reports on the prevalence and nature of incidents of violence and theft experienced by 10 to 15 year olds (although property damage is asked about in the children’s survey this crime type is low volume so detailed analysis is not possible). Victims of such incidents were asked questions which, among others, related to the specific type of offence, the circumstances in which it occurred (for example information about the offender and location) and the respondent’s perception of the incident (for example whether or not they viewed it as a crime).
Two approaches to measuring crime are used when analysing the CSEW data for 10 to 15 year olds: the ‘broad’ measure and ‘preferred’ measure. The ‘preferred’ measure takes into account factors identified as important in determining the severity of an incident (such as relationship to the offender, level of injury or value of item stolen or damaged). The ‘broad’ measure includes all offences captured by the preferred method, but also covers minor offences between children and family members that would not normally be treated as criminal matters. The statistics commented on in this section refer only to the preferred measure of crime2. For more details on the preferred and broad measures of CSEW crime see the User Guide to Crime Statistics (796.9 Kb Pdf) .
The data presented in Sections 1 and 2 are incident-based (except where specified); percentages are therefore based on the total number of incidents experienced by children (where multiple incidents experienced by the same child are counted separately). In contrast, the data presented in Section 3 are victim-based, thus a victim is only counted once in the analysis even if they experienced a particular type of incident many times in the 12 months prior to interview.
Unless otherwise stated, all changes over time and differences in measures described in this chapter are statistically significant.
Preliminary results from the first calendar year were published in 2010 (Millard and Flatley, 2010). The results for 2010/11 were published in two reports (Chaplin et al, 2011 and Smith et al, 2012). The questionnaire was refined again for the 2011/12 survey and kept consistent in the 2012/13 survey.
According to the 2012/13 CSEW, there were an estimated 821,000 incidents of crime experienced by children aged 10 to 15 in England and Wales, of these:
an estimated 57% (or 465,000 incidents) were violent;
personal theft incidents accounted for 38% (314,000) of the total number of incidents experienced;
property damage accounted for 5% (42,000) of incidents experienced1.
Despite the difference in the numbers of violent and theft incidents, there was little difference in the likelihood of 10 to 15 year olds being victims of either type of crime (6% and 7% of children were victims of each type of crime respectively, Appendix table 3.02 (534 Kb Excel sheet) ). This reflects that, as with adults, children are more likely to be repeat victims of violence than theft.
Both violent and theft incidents as classified by the children’s survey can be broken down into smaller incident types; Figures 3.1 and 3.2 illustrate the proportions of each of these experienced according to the 2012/13 CSEW.
The most common form of violent incident experienced was assault with minor injury (an estimated 207,000 incidents), followed by assault without injury (103,000), wounding (89,000) and robbery (65,000)2.
The most common personal theft incident experienced was ‘other theft of personal property’. This category includes theft of personal items left unattended and it accounted for 70% (221,000) of incidents reported in the 2012/13 survey. The remaining 30% of theft incidents experienced was made up of bike theft (31,000 incidents), stealth theft (29,000), theft from/outside the dwelling (22,000) and snatch theft (12,000)2.
Criminal damage of personal items is also covered in the 10 to 15 CSEW but due to the low volume of this offence it will not be discussed in this section although an estimate of the number of offences is shown in Appendix table 3.01 (534 Kb Excel sheet) .
See Chapter 5 of the User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales (796.9 Kb Pdf) for offence definitions.
This section presents information on the nature of violence and theft experienced by 10 to 15 year olds. The data tables on which this commentary is based were first published in the Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13 and Focus on Property Crime, 2012/13 publications but the analysis that follows will look at the nature of violence and theft alongside one another for the first time.
The 2012/13 CSEW shows that the locations and timing of incidents were similar for violence and theft (Figure 3.3).
Around 60% of both violence and theft incidents occurred in or around school while the remaining proportion for each incident type occurred in or around the home/housing estate (violence: 12%; theft: 18%), in other public locations including transport (violence: 18%; theft: 12%) and elsewhere (not specified, violence: 8%; theft: 10%) (Nature of Crime Tables – Violence 4.1 and Theft 9.1).
The vast majority of violent incidents occurred in daylight hours (91%) and/or during the week (85%, Nature of Crime – Violence Table 4.2).
The pattern seen for theft was the same with 88% of incidents taking place in daylight hours and 85% taking place during the week (Nature of Crime - Theft Table 9.2).
Although a majority of both violence and theft incidents took place in or around school, within this broad category there were differences between the two offence types. Forty per cent of violent incidents occurred outside a school building (but still close by, for example in the playground or street), while this figure was 12% for theft incidents (Figure 3.3). Similarly, almost half (48%) of theft incidents occurred inside school buildings compared with 22% of violent incidents. Thefts may take place more frequently inside school than violent incidents because valuable items such as money and mobile phones may be easier to steal from indoors, where they are unattended, compared with outside. In contrast, violent incidents may be more likely to occur outside school buildings because behaviour outside is harder for teachers and school staff to monitor.
The characteristics of offenders are consistent with the finding that most incidents occur on or around school premises. However, it is important to note that only 48% of victims of theft were able to say anything about the offender, compared with 97% of victims of violence. The data for theft may not therefore be representative of all theft offenders.
Sixty-four per cent of violent incidents and 74% of theft incidents involved a single offender although this apparent difference between each incident type was not statistically significant.
In around one fifth (21%) of violent incidents there were four or more offenders, compared with 6% of theft incidents.
For incidents which involved a single offender only:
There was a higher proportion of male than female offenders for both violent and theft incidents (in 77% of violent incidents the offender was male and in 58% of theft incidents the offender was male).
For both incident types, 79% of offender was in the same age band as the victim (10 to 15 years old).
The offender was known well to the victim in more than half of incidents (56% for violence and 57% for theft).
For violent incidents, the offender was more likely to be a pupil at the victim’s school compared with theft incidents (68% and 50% respectively).
According to the 2012/13 CSEW, overall more than three quarters (78%) of violent incidents resulted in injury (Nature of Crime Tables – Violence 4.6). More detailed information is available on the nature of injuries sustained; 69% of violent incidents resulted in minor bruising or a black eye (Figure 3.4) while other common injuries were scratches or marks on skin (58%) and severe bruising or cuts (33%). Four per cent of violent incidents were serious (includes facial/head injuries, broken nose, concussion and broken bones) and around one-fifth (21%) resulted in the victim receiving some form of medical attention.
Figure 3.5 shows that the items stolen most frequently from children were mobile phones (20%), clothing (17%), cash (15%) and bicycles or bicycle parts (13%).
The 2012/13 CSEW highlights differing perceptions of violent and theft incidents by children aged 10 to 15 (Figure 3.6). The incidents on which these perceptions are based are those which would be considered a crime in law (as defined by the preferred measure described in the introduction).
Theft incidents were twice as likely to be perceived as a crime (52%) compared with violent incidents (26%).
Thirty-seven per cent of violent incidents were perceived to be ‘wrong but not a crime’ with the same proportion perceived to be ‘just something that happens’. For theft, the proportions were 27% and 21% respectively.
Despite a much larger proportion of theft incidents being perceived as a crime compared with violence, the police came to know about similar proportions of each (13% for violence and 15% for theft). This may reflect that children are more willing to bring violent incidents than theft incidents to the attention of the police.
More generally, the proportion of incidents which come to the attention of the police is much lower than the equivalent adult figure. This is to be expected given that incidents against children, committed by children, may be dealt with by another authority figure.
Half of all violent incidents experienced by children were perceived by the victim to be part of a series of bullying, compared with 9% for theft incidents. This may reflect genuine differences in the perception of motivations behind an offence. Alternatively, it may be a result of the higher number of instances in which victims of violence were able to identify the offender compared with theft, allowing them to comment with more certainty on the motivation behind the offence.
The CSEW collects data on respondent characteristics and this section presents analysis of these to help identify which are associated with being a victim of violence and theft. As mentioned previously, these data are victim-based, that is to say the percentages given in the text and accompanying Appendix tables (3.03 and 3.04) (534 Kb Excel sheet) are based on the number of victims rather than the number of incidents they experienced.
Overall, the 2012/13 CSEW estimates that 13% of children experienced at least one incident of any type of crime in the 12 months prior to interview. Similarly to findings from the adult element of the CSEW, the risk of being a victim of crime among 10 to 15 year olds varied by gender, with boys being 1.8 times more likely to have been a victim compared with girls (16% of boys were victims compared with 9% of girls). However, unlike the adult survey, this overall difference in risk by gender in the children’s survey is mostly driven by a higher prevalence of violent incidents against males:
Among boys, 9% were a victim of any type of violence, compared with 3% of girls.
For theft however, the apparent difference between boys and girls (8% of boys experienced any type of theft compared with 6% of girls) was not statistically significant.
A full breakdown of the personal, household and area characteristics associated with being a victim of crime is shown in Appendix tables 3.03 and 3.04 (534 Kb Excel sheet) . Many of these characteristics were associated with each other (for example children from low income households were more likely to live in social rented accommodation than those from higher income households) and for this reason they should not be interpreted in isolation. Logistic regression can be used to estimate how much the likelihood of victimisation is increased or reduced according to the different characteristics listed in Appendix tables 3.03 and 3.04 (534 Kb Excel sheet) , taking into account the fact that some variables may be interrelated. Although logistic regression can be used to explore associations between variables, it does not necessarily imply causation and results should be treated as indicative rather than conclusive.
As shown in Appendix table 3.03 (534 Kb Excel sheet) , bullying was strongly associated with being a victim of violence (18% of children bullied in the 12 months prior to interview were victims compared with 3% of those not bullied). However, as discussed above in Section 2, half of all violent incidents were perceived by the victim to be part of a series of bullying. Therefore, having been bullied and having been a victim of violence were likely to be frequently referring to the same event (the violent incident). For this reason the variable ‘bullied in the last 12 months’ was omitted from the violence logistic regression model (but retained in the theft model).
Similarly to findings from the adult survey1, logistic regression showed that there was little variation in risk of being a victim of violence across different household and area characteristics. The model did however identify a number of personal characteristics that were associated with a higher risk of being a victim of violence ( Appendix table 3.05 (534 Kb Excel sheet) contains the full model):
Boys were 2.8 times more likely to be victims than girls.
Those who had a long-standing illness or disability were more than 2.7 times as likely to be a victim of violence compared with those who had no such illness or disability.
Children aged 10 to 12 were almost 1.4 times more likely to be victims of violence compared with those aged 13 to 15.
Children who knew someone in a gang2 or knew someone who used to be in a gang were 1.9 times as likely to be victims of violence compared with those who did not.
In contrast to the violence model, half of the characteristics associated with being a victim of theft were household or area in nature, although there were some personal characteristics associated as well ( Appendix table 3.06 (534 Kb Excel sheet) contains the full model):
Children from higher income households (£30,000 or more) were 1.9 times as likely to be a victim compared with those from households with an income of less than £30,000.
Those living in the social rented sector were 1.8 times as likely to be victims compared with those living in privately owned accommodation. Those living in privately rented accommodation did not however have a higher risk than those living in owned accommodation.
Children in lone-adult households were 1.5 times more likely to be victims of theft compared with those from households with two adults.
Those who had a long-standing illness or disability were more than 1.6 times as likely to be a victim of theft compared with those with no such illness or disability.
Children who had been bullied in the 12 months prior to interview had more than double (2.3 times) the likelihood of being a victim of theft compared with those who had not been bullied.
Children who knew someone in a gang or knew someone who used to be in a gang were 2.4 times as likely to be victims of theft compared with those who did not.
The relationship between knowing somebody who is/was in a gang and being a victim of theft or violence is one of the more complex findings to interpret. Knowing someone who is/was in a gang does not necessarily mean that the crime experienced was gang related. This variable may be more of a proxy for the area in which people live, although it is of interest that it is predictor of victimisation even after controlling for other household, area and personal characteristics.
While the survey questions on gangs were designed to capture details of associations with members of ‘street gangs’ which may have been involved in criminal activity, it is possible that respondents will have had in mind a broader definition of gangs. As such, these finding should be interpreted with caution.
Ten to 15 year old CSEW respondents were drawn randomly from households in which an adult answered the main survey. This provides an opportunity to explore the relationship between adult victimisation and child victimisation within households. The 2012/13 CSEW shows that, overall, in households comprised of at least one adult and at least one child (table not shown):
there was no victim (neither child nor adult) in 67% of households;
the adult in the household was a victim but the child was not in 20% of households and the child was a victim but the adult in the household was not in 8% of households;
both the child and adult in the household reported being victims in 4% of households.
Table 3.1 shows the proportions of child victims and non-victims of all crime by whether or not the adult in the household was also a victim.
The child respondent was a victim of crime in 11% of households where the adult was not a victim. By contrast, the child respondent was a victim in 18% of households where the adult was also a victim of crime. A child is therefore 1.6 times more likely to be a victim of any crime if the adult in the same household is also a victim.
There were only 120 households surveyed with both a child and adult victim and because of this small sample size it is not possible to explore the nature of the crime experienced any further.
|Child respondent: not victim||Child respondent: victim||Unweighted base|
|Adult respondent: not victim||89||11||2,194|
|Adult respondent: victim||82||18||685|
Chaplin, Flatley and Smith, eds. 2011 ‘Crime in England and Wales 2010/11’, Home Office statistical bulletin 10/11
Millard and Flatley, eds. 2010, ‘Experimental statistics on victimisation of children age 10 to 15; findings from the British Crime Survey for the year ending December 2009 England and Wales’, Home Office statistical bulletin 11/10
Office for National Statistics 2013a, ‘Crime in England and Wales, Year Ending March 2013’
Office for National Statistics 2013b, ‘Focus on Property Crime, 2012/13’
Office for National Statistics 2014a, ‘Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2012/13’
Office for National Statistics 2014b, ‘ User Guide to Crime Statistics for England and Wales (796.9 Kb Pdf) ’
Smith, ed. ‘Hate crime, cyber security and the experience of crime among children: Findings from the 2010/11 British Crime Survey: Supplementary Volume 3 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11’, Home Office statistical bulletin 06/12
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