Emerg Med J 27:811-814 doi:10.1136/emj.2008.068528
  • Original Article

Gender inequality in the risk of violence: material deprivation is linked to higher risk for adolescent girls

  1. Jonathan Shepherd1
  1. 1Violence and Society Research Group, School of Dentistry, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr V Sivarajasingam, Violence and Society Research Group, School of Dentistry, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XY, UK; sivarajasingam{at}
  • Accepted 26 July 2009
  • Published Online First 3 September 2010


Objective To investigate the association between material deprivation and injury sustained in violence by adolescents aged 11–17 years.

Methods Computerised data relating to gender, attendance date and resident postcode of all patients aged 11–17 years who received treatment for violence-related injuries at seven emergency departments (ED) in South Wales over 12 months, 1 October 2005 to 30 September 2006, were studied. The resident populations, by electoral division of three unitary authorities in Wales, Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, were obtained from the NHS administrative register. The relationships between demographic variables and material deprivation as measured by the Townsend deprivation index were analysed.

Results Altogether 699 (475 boys; 224 girls) adolescents aged 11–17 years resident in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport attended ED in South Wales following violence. Boys and girls living in the most deprived areas had higher assault injury rates compared with those living in the most affluent areas. In the context of sustaining violence-related injury, material deprivation affected girls aged 11–17 years to a much greater extent (Cardiff most deprived vs most affluent rate ratio 6.31, Swansea 10.11, Newport 2.90) than boys of the same age group (Cardiff most deprived vs most affluent rate ratio 2.02, Swansea 7.74, Newport 1.74).

Conclusions Material deprivation was associated with a higher risk of violence-related injury for adolescent girls compared with adolescent boys. Risk-taking behaviour for adolescent boys and girls may be different under different socioeconomic conditions. Violence prevention efforts should focus more on tackling neighbourhood inequalities, particularly those related to material deprivation in adolescent girls.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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