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Strategy: Supporting Teen Victims of Crime

One in five teenagers reports being the victim of a violent crime. Although frequently stereotyped as troublemakers, teens are . . .

One in five teenagers reports being the victim of a violent crime. Although frequently stereotyped as troublemakers, teens are twice as likely as any other age group to be victimized. Although teens represent only 14 percent of the population, they represent 25 percent of victims of such violent crime as rape, assault, and robbery. Furthermore, teens most likely to commit crimes are those who have been victims of crime.(1)

During adolescence, the experience of being victimized may be more traumatic than during other times of life. Teen victimization has both long-lasting and damaging consequences for youth, their families, and their communities. Victimization increases a teen's risk for pregnancy, substance abuse, low academic achievement, mental health problems, and suicide. This vulnerable population tends to be underserved by many victim assistance programs.

The Teen Action Partnership is a youth leadership initiative designed to get adolescent victims the help they need, to reduce the incidence of repeat victimization, and to develop youth leadership by making teenagers a critical part of the solution. By recognizing the tremendous positive influence that young people can have on other young people, the Teen Action Partnership empowers teenagers to address the problem of teen victimization in a meaningful and productive way.

The teenagers hold leadership positions and work to effect positive change in their communities by

  • completing a community assessment that is focused on the local experience of teen victimization and the resources available to teens,
  • advocating for public policies that support teen victims,
  • conducting a peer outreach campaign to raise awareness of teen victimization, and
  • encouraging teen victims to get help.

This initiative was launched in March 2003 by the National Center for Victims of Crime and supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The project initially involves four sites (Boys & Girls Clubs of Garden Grove, CA; Trailblazers Academy of Stamford, CT; 4-H of Vinton County, OH; and the Police Athletic League of Baltimore, MD).

1 Our Vulnerable Teenagers: Their Victimization, Its Consequences, and Directions for Prevention and Intervention. A report prepared by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 2002.

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