A collaborative study by researchers from the University of Haifa and Ben Gurion University has shown that almost 90 per cent of teenagers, aged 12-18, have been victims of some level of sexual violence.
The researchers, who surveyed 1,036 high school students, also found that 82 per cent of boys and 76 per cent of girls had been subjects of violent physical assault.
Professor Rachel Lev-Wiesel from the University of Haifa's School of Social Work said that the results of the study showed a distressing increase in the incidence of violence, both sexual and physical, over the past few years.
The researchers took up the study in order to examine the personal and social factors that help adolescents cope with the trauma of a violent assault. Their findings were based on the questionnaires filled in by high school students.
The questionnaire measured six variables—namely demography, physical and sexual assaults, PTSD, potency and social support from family and friends.
According to the researchers, boys in the study reported a higher incidence of sexual and physical violence than girls. "The results of the research show that a feeling of potency and support of family and friends are important resources which have the potential to reduce the resulting trauma following assault.
In addition to the importance of developing programs to decrease the incidence of violence, these is a need for programs for empowerment and strengthening personal resources that will protect those who have already fallen victim to violence," said Prof. Lev-Wiesel.
The study was presented at a conference recently.