Boys in low-income urban areas around the world are suffering more than girls from violence, sexual abuse and emotional or physical neglect, suggests a new study. The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, revealed that boys who suffer from such adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were more likely to become violent as compared to girls. Whereas, girls are more likely to show higher levels of depressive symptoms than boys following traumatic childhood experiences.
"This is the first global study to investigate how a cluster of traumatic childhood experiences known as ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences, work together to cause specific health issues in early adolescence with terrible, life-long consequences," said lead researcher Robert Blum, Professor at Johns Hopkins University in the US.
"And while we found young girls often suffer significantly, contrary to common belief, boys reported even greater exposure to violence and neglect, which makes them more likely to be violent in return," Blum added.
For the study, the researchers from the varsity surveyed 1,284 adolescents in the 10-14 years age group from as many as 14 "low-income urban settings" around the world including India, China, Vietnam, the UK and the US. The study's findings showed that 46 per cent of young adolescents reported experiencing violence, 38 per cent suffered emotional neglect and 29 per cent experienced physical neglect. However, boys were more likely to report being victims of sexual abuse and violence.
A similar study, carried out by researchers from the Bellagio Working Group, advocates that the world will never achieve gender equality "by focusing on girls and women alone and excluding boys and men". "We cannot achieve a gender equitable world by ignoring half of its occupants," noted Bellagio Working Group.
The Bellagio report suggests that boys have as equal a part to play as girls in achieving the fifth of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5), which seeks to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls".
"Gender norms, attitudes and beliefs appear to solidify by age 15 or 16," asserted the Bellagio group, adding, "we must actively engage girls and boys at the onset of adolescence to increase total social inclusion and produce generational change".
The group will release their research's findings at Women Deliver conference in Vancouver, Canada next week.