The risk of violence that arises from living in a deprived area, a new study has pointed out, is more acute for girls than boys.
The Cardiff University study, which focused on former industrial areas, suggest violence prevention strategies need to focus more on local inequalities, especially to protect vulnerable adolescent girls.
AdvertisementThe team looked at nearly 700 young people, aged 11-17 years, who received treatment for violence-related injuries at emergency departments in South Wales.
They found that assault injury rates were uniformly higher in the most deprived areas. Overall, boys were more at risk of violence than girls.
However, the team also found that the risk of injury increased more rapidly for girls than boys as material deprivation increased. In one deprived area, girls faced a risk of violence six times greater than in more affluent wards.
Boys in the same area were twice as likely to be injured than in more affluent areas. This means that the risk to girls was three times more sensitive to deprivation.
"The study clearly shows that poverty raises the risk of violence dramatically more for girls than boys. There's no reason to believe this will not apply to all former industrial areas in the UK," said Prof Jonathan Shepherd, director of the Violence and Society Research Group.
"The facts linking deprived neighbourhoods to violence are complex and include social cohesion, substance abuse and family stress. It is not clear why the risk to girls should be so much more sensitive to deprivation but the reason may be linked to the different ways girls of different backgrounds resolve disputes," he added.
"There is already concern about the violence risk to young women. Our findings show that adverse economic conditions could make the problem even worse," Shepherd said.
The study has been published in Emergency Medical Journal.