Workplace Violence Against Children & Youngsters

By Assoc. Prof. Yasemin Gunay Balci

* Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Osmangazi
* Executive Committee Member, Fisek Institute-Science and Action Foundation for Child Labour


The fact that workplace violence is a serious community medicine problem has been ascertained through the studies carried out by various institutions and organisations in various countries. However, it has been also come on the scene that the necessary registration and documentation systems are not sufficient enough to take the relevant precautions and determine on the necessary strategies. In this particular article, we want to investigate the results of three different studies thoroughly. The first research includes the investigation of foreign data and results; the second one is our study that has been based on the data and files sent to the Department of Traumatology of the Council of Forensic Medicine; and the third one includes the study which has been carried out by Fisek Institute on workplace violence against girl child apprentices.

Recently, workplace violence is among the most important research topics anddiscussed issues. Peek-Asa and Kraus report that the rate of injuriesbased on workplace assaults is annually 72.9 per one hundred thousandand 50 times more than the incidences resulted with death. They also present that the rate of injuries changes with respect to the type of an industry and gender; and the most highest rate of these injuries can be observed among retailers (tradesmen and self-employed people), hospital, police and transportation workers; and the assault rates of individual jobs is 73,1 % of all occupational injuries. Kraus and Brown, on the other hand, have investigated the riskfactors in regard to fatal and non-fatal assault injuries in highrisk occupations and industries in California. Similarly, Bourque and others have carried out researches in order toascertain the prevalence of assaults and the perception of theassault risks among public service workers in Los Angeles. Children and youngsters get their share of “workplace violence” reality as well. The researches demonstrate that 12-20 % of thevictims of workplace violence is below the age of 19.

Victims and offenders of workplace violence againstchildren and youngsters may display some differences in regard to agefactor and the type of working relations. It is such that:

3. Age factor;
4. Violence may come from other children and youth at the same age or age group.
5. Violence may come from adults.
6. Type of working relations;

A child/youngster may be exposed to workplace violenceby other workers or non-workers like a customer, acquaintance, andetc.

Even if a child/youngster does not work at thatworkplace, s/he may be exposed to workplace violence, during theperiod s/he is there, by workers or non workers like a customer,acquaintance, and etc.

Violence may come from the workers at the same position,but also from authorised personalities like master workmen, boss, andetc.

Inorder to clarify the problem, it is necessary to analyse thediagnosing findings about children and youngsters that were exposedto workplace violence.


For this study, randomly chosen 339 files have been investigated, incident place of which were already recorded. The files were the ones sent to the Department of Traumatology of the Council of Forensic Medicine between the dates January 1 and December 31, 1998. Among these files, 140 (35,1 %) workplace related files have been sorted out; and the files of the children and youngsters below the age of 19 have been evaluated in terms of personal specifications of the ones who were exposed to workplace violence and of the type of violence they were exposed.

Among the applications owing to physical assault, it has been found out that 6 of them were about the injuries caused by cutting, cutting-piercing or cutting-crushing devices; 6 of them were about injuries caused by firearms; and 3 of them were the injuries due to blunt trauma. Among 15 cases exposed to physical assault, 13 of them have had no choice but being treated at a hospital; and 6 of these have overcome a vital risk. Concerning the victims exposed to workplace violence or to general violence cases in society, the rate of the hospitalised patients having a medical treatment is around 64-70 %; and the rate of the cases overcoming a vital risk is around 31-35 %.(5,6,9) Under the scope of this study, it is not possible to make a comparison between the rates of adults and children/youngsters who were exposed to workplace violence due to the scarcity of children/youngster cases. But still, it can be argued that the consequences of workplace violence against this group is much more serious. Besides, it is important to note that hospitalisation of the victims is a cost both for the individual and society in regard to its negatively affecting the workflow and work efficiency.

Among the victims who were exposed to workplace violence, 21,3 % of them (27 cases) was below the age of 19. Of these, only one of them was a female worker, and the rest was all male (26 cases). As for the offenders, 28,6 % of them was at the same age with the victims or 1-5 years younger-older than them; yet the remaining 71,4% of the offenders were 6 years (or more) older than the victims.

It has been ascertained that one forth of the victims were not the employees of that workplace when the assault was occurred there. It has been also observed that there was not any statistically indicative correlation between the assault type and the impact of whether the victim is an employee of that workplace (p > 0.05). Similarly, there has not been observed any correlation between the assault type and whether the related work is agricultural (p > 0.05).

Regarding the files, there have been 20 cases in which the occupations of victimised children/youngsters and of the offenders were known both at the same time.

Among these 20 cases, 13 of them has been the indicator of status differences between victims and offenders.

There have been 24 cases in which both the birth and residence place of a victim were known. Of these, there have been 21 village/small town born children; and 16 of which inhabits in villages/small towns recently. It has not been observed any such difference between city or district born children. On the other hand, the migration rate of these children/youngster victims is 20,8 %.

Assaults have been most frequently observed in summer (40,7 %) and in June (25,9 %). Insofar as the time frame during which the assaults were taken place is concerned, it has been observed that there was no difference among the rate of the assaults taken place in the morning (06:01 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.), in the afternoon (00:01 p.m. – 06:00 p.m.), toward evening (06:01 p.m. – 12:00 p.m.) and in the evening (00:01 a.m. – 06:00 a.m.).

While 15 (55,6 %) of the cases were related to court with a claim on physical assault, 12 (44,4 %) of them were on sexual assault.

Among these physical assault complainants, it has been found out that;

7. 6 of them were injured by cutting, cutting-piercing or cutting-crushing devices;
8. 6 of them were injured by firearms;
9. 3 of them were injured due to blunt trauma.

Among 15 victims who were exposed to physical assault, 13 of them were hospitalised for a short or a long period of time in order to be medically treated; and 6 of them overcame a vital risk.

According to the forensic files, 21,3 % (27 cases) of the cases who were exposed to workplace violence was below the age of 19. According to the study realised by Buken and others, the occurrence rate of such cases among people that are 19 years old and under is 12,9 % for females and 19,7 % for males. And it has also been reported that mostly 15-19 years old males areexposed to assaults and battery in Denmark. The rate of workplace violence against children/youngsters atworkplaces can be reckoned as the reflection of the general violencein society. However, it is thought-provoking at the same time thatapproximately three fourth of these victims are exposed to workplaceviolence by people who are 6 years (or more) older than themselves.This also indicates the cases of child/youngster abuse.

Aresearch carried out in Turkey has shown that 76 % of occupationalinjuries are related with individual works.(6) Under thescope of this study, it has also been observed that 10 of the 18children/youngsters exposed to workplace violence have been involvedin personal works (like agricultural works or self-employment) duringthe time of the exposure.

In most of the cases, working status of victims and offenders show considerable differences.

The migration rate of these victims is 20,8 %; and this rate does not statistically differ from the migration rate of the victims exposed to general violence in society (28 %).

When the cases are evaluated in regard to seasonal variations, assaults are mostly observed in summer (40,7 %) and in June (25,9 %). This may be related to an increase in the number of children/youngsters at workplaces (whether through working or non-working) in parallel to the closing of schools in summer holidays. Considering our study, the rates of the assaults taken place in the morning, afternoon or towards evening do not show great variations; additionally, there is not any case taken place in the evening. In regard to the studies on assault times and incident places, it has been found that between 06:01 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., injuries mostly take place at workplaces and related outlying buildings (approximately 35 %); and workplace and related outlying building injuries are mostly occur between 00:01 p.m. – 06:00 p.m. (35-38 %).(6,9) Concerning these active hours, workplace injuries constitute a noteworthy group, and this situation is reflected to children and youngsters as well.

Workplace violence against children and youngsters is not only limited with extra-accident injuries. 15 (55,6 %) of the cases were related to court with a claim on physical assault; and furthermore, 12 (44,4 %) of them were the sexual assault cases. Gunay states that 20 % of the victims of a sexual assault (of which 78 % ismale and 84 % is below the age of 18) is assaulted at workplaces andrelated outlying buildings. However, these are only the cases thatare taken to the court; it can be estimated that the real numbersexceed these observations.


Obtained from the data repository of Fisek Institute-Science and Action Foundation for Child Labour, findings from the surveys conducted on 102 young girls (87 working, 15 non-working) have been evaluated for this study in regard to workplace violence against young girls.

23 (26,4 %) of the working girls have stated that they were at least one time annoyed by foremen, master workmen or customers; and that they felt annoyed mostly due to the looks of men. One of them has submitted that she was directly harassed by hand.

Among these young girls, 51,0 % (52/102) has told that if they are born again, they would not want to be a girl anymore. Considering the obvious reasons of such expressions, these facts can be elaborated such that they want to be as free and relaxed as men and that they witness women’s being oppressed and harassed.

As to the working young girls, 26 of them have been employed in another job previously; and 14 of them have submitted the causes of their leaving from their jobs as follows: disliking the work or working environment (4 cases), insufficient income (5 cases), disagreement with the employer (3 cases), not being instructed on anything (2 cases).

Out of 87 working young girls, 78 (89,6 %) of them have told that they like to work; and 64 (73,6 %) of them have stated that they have an averse to work sometimes. The basic causes of this strong dislike are:

10. Caprice of the customers: 22 cases (34,4 %)
11. Exhaustion: 13 cases (20,3 %)
12. Attitude of the employers towards foremen: 13 cases (20,3 %)
13. Not being able to take a vacation; work overtime: 6 cases (9,4 %)
14. To be had to make other works: 2 cases (3,1 %)
15. Others: 8 cases (12,5 %)

The causes of girls’ quitting their jobs and above mentioned averse to work make us to consider about these questions:

16. Whether there was a situation that annoyed young girls in the working environment?
17. Whether they had a disagreement about their salary, since “female” labour is deemed cheaper? It is also possible to encounter with cheapening of labour.
18. Considering the disagreements with employers, is there any possibility whether young girls confronted a gender biased treatment?
19. Could it be regarded as a kind of abuse such that young girls, having occupational concerns, were not instructed on anything, directed to be involved in other unrelated jobs, and not respected in regard to their willingness to learn?
20. Could it be possible that even customers more easily behave capriciously towards these children?
21. What intimidates these young girls is their having long and exhausting working hours, and their working even at homes and in Sundays?


As you see, workplace abuse against children does not come on the scene only in the form of a physical or sexual assault. Any kind of behaviour that intentionally or unintentionally impedes children to be in complete well-being (physically, psychologically and socially) should be evaluated under the scope of violence and abuse.

Additionally,it should not be forgotten that these findings are just the visiblepart of an iceberg. This is true especially for girl children.Besides, social, cultural, psychological and religious factors have an impeding effect over the definition and disclosure of violence affairs.

With respect to workplace violence, its dimensions and results, it is for sure that more researches should be carried out including various sub-groups and segments of society. Considering the importance of work and the period that we spend at workplaces, new precautionary and sensitivity raising strategies should be developed about workplace violence. In the light of the existing findings and the ones that will be obtained in the future, this should be achieved urgently through the co-operative contributions of non-governmental organisations and with a multi-disciplinary perspective.