Global studies on adolescent victims of violence require serious attention due to the possibility that underreported cases may be higher than official records indicate. Since Indonesia expects to witness a demographic bonus, extensive research is needed to strengthen early detection, case handling, and prevention. Here, we report the outcomes of a survey on physical, verbal, and sexual violence experienced by adolescents in West Java, an Indonesian province inhabited by 18% of the country’s total population.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey in 2017 using the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) Child Abuse Screening Tool for Children (ICAST-C) questionnaire for detecting child abuse; an expert panel translated, simplified, and validated it based on a theoretical framework that combines paediatrics, public health, and medicolegal perspectives. We aimed to cover a large sample size and explore three types of violence (physical, verbal, and sexual) that have high evidentiary value in the forensic context. The respondents were adolescents in the first and second grades of middle school (12 to 14 years old) and high school (15 to 17 years old) in seven cities/municipalities in the province, selected through several stages of simple random sampling (N = 3452). We analysed the samples through univariate (percentage), odds ratio (OR), comparison, correlation, and correspondence analyses.
The results showed that 78.7% of the adolescents experienced violence in 2017, comprising those who encountered at least one incidence of physical violence (43.1%), verbal violence (12.2%), and sexual violence (4.5%). Data overlap includes 14.3% who experienced one type of violence in 2017, 7.4% who experienced two forms of violence, and 1.4% who underwent all three kinds of violence. The offenders were mainly adolescents across all types of violence, except for being forced to engage in sexual intercourse. Several victims of sexual violence did not state who the offenders were. Further, several characteristics showed a higher chance of experiencing violence than other characteristics, especially for adolescents who were still in middle school and those who lived only with their mothers. Correspondence analysis suggested subtle differences between characteristics.
We expect this study to help identify risk and protective factors that are essential to strengthening early detection efforts, decisive medicolegal examinations, case handling, and policy-making.