UNICEF Report Offers A Harrowing Look At The Victimization Of Black Adolescent Boys In The United States

A report today from UNICEF about violence against children painted a disturbing global picture, including on a topic that rarely receives the attention it deserves: the victimization of non-Hispanic black adolescent boys in the United States.

Here are a few key findings about non-Hispanic black adolescent boys and all boys in general:

1. In the United States, non-Hispanic black boys aged 10 to 19 years old are almost 19 times more likely to be murdered than non-Hispanic white boys of the same age.

2. If the homicide rate among non-Hispanic black adolescent boys is applied nationwide, the United States would be one of the top ten most deadly countries in the world for adolescent boys along with countries including the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and Brazil.

3. In 2015, the risk of being killed by homicide for a non-Hispanic black adolescent boy in the United States was the same as the risk of being killed due to collective violence for an adolescent boy living in war-torn South Sudan, and higher than the risk of being killed due to collective violence for an adolescent boy living in countries including Libya and Yemen.

4. Data from six countries reveals friends, classmates and partners were among the most frequently cited perpetrators of sexual violence against adolescent boys.

5. The global homicide rate is four times higher among adolescent boys than girls.

6. At school, both sexes are at about equal risk of being bullied, but boys are more likely to be subjected to physical violence and threats.

The report, titled A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents (PDF here), states that boys face a substantially higher risk of dying from violence than girls and that there is a lack of data on the sexual violence faced by boys.

To end violence against children, UNICEF is calling for governments to take urgent action and support the INSPIRE guidance which has been agreed and promoted by WHO, UNICEF and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, including:

· Adopting well-coordinated national action plans to end violence against children – incorporating education, social welfare, justice and health systems, as well as communities and children themselves.

· Changing behaviours of adults and addressing factors that contribute to violence against children, including economic and social inequities, social and cultural norms that condone violence, inadequate policies and legislation, insufficient services for victims, and limited investments in effective systems to prevent and respond to violence.

· Focussing national policies on minimizing violent behaviour, reducing inequalities, and limiting access to firearms and other weapons.

· Building social service systems and training social workers to provide referrals, counselling and therapeutic services for children who have experienced violence.

· Educating children, parents, teachers, and community members to recognise violence in all its many forms and empowering them to speak out and report violence safely.

· Collecting better disaggregated data on violence against children and tracking progress through robust monitoring and evaluation.

The report was initiated and coordinated by Claudia Cappa and Nicole Petrowski. They were also responsible for data analysis, interpretation of the results, and report writing.


Cameron Conaway is a recipient of the Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Fellowship. He’s the Director of Content at Reflektion.

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