1 in 3 teenagers 'have physically assaulted someone'

24 January 2018, 07:24

Frustrated teenager

A "surprisingly large" number of teenagers have physical assaulted someone, new research shows.

Almost a third (31%) of 14-year-olds have shoved, hit, slapped or punched someone, experts found.

Meanwhile more than one in 10 14-year-olds admit to binge drinking.

New analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort Study - a study tracking the lives of thousands of youngsters born in the UK in 2000/01- found that rates of assault were higher among boys, with 41% of boys and 21% of girls admitting they had done this.

The authors wrote that the number was "surprisingly large".

And 1% said they had assaulted someone with a weapon.

Experts from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, part of the UCL Institute of Education, analysed data on risk-taking behaviour among 11,000 14-year-olds.

Overall, around 14% of teenagers had caused a public nuisance - such as being noisy or rude in a public place - at least once in the previous 12 months.

Researchers found that by the time they were 14, half of British teenagers had experimented with alcohol, smoking or drugs in some way.

Boys tended to have first tried alcohol at a younger age than girls - one in five boys had drunk alcohol by age 11, compared to one in seven girls.

After comparing youngsters' responses when they were 11 and 14, researchers found big increases in the rates of binge drinking - classed as having five or more drinks at a time on at least one occasion.

Less than 1% had been binge drinking by age 11, compared to almost 11% at age 14.

Professor Emla Fitzsimons, one of the authors of the research and director of the Millennium Cohort Study, said: "Our findings are a valuable insight into health-damaging behaviours among today's teenagers right across the UK.

"There is clear evidence that substance use increases sharply between ages 11 and 14, and that experimentation before age 12 can lead to more habitual use by age 14.

"This suggests that targeting awareness and support to children at primary school should be a priority. Our analysis also highlights the groups most vulnerable to being drawn into substance use who may benefit from additional support."