The recently released 2009 Dane County Youth Assessment, by far the most comprehensive overview of what is being done by and to area children (responses were garnered from more than 24,000 area students, 90% of the total in grades 7 through 12), shows an overall decline in risky drug use and sexual behaviors.
But, in a category that's not been asked before, 7% of high-schoolers and 8% of middle school students reported being physically hit by a parent to the point of being bruised within the last year.
Cheryl Kato of the Rainbow Project, which works mainly with kids under 10, says she's not surprised. She thinks some kids may be exaggerating, but, "given what we see every day," it's also possible the incidence of parental hitting is being underreported.
Jennifer Wilgocki, with the Adolescent Trauma Treatment Program at the Mental Health Center of Dane County, says the level of reporting, though congruent with some national numbers, lacks context: Was the hitting a one-time event or part of a pattern of abuse?
Still, she says, "It's the kind of thing that should jump out at people."