‘We Just Have to Learn to Deal with It’: Young Workers’ Experiences of Workplace Violence

Chris McVittie, Karen Goodall, Rahul Sambaraju, Ian Elliott, Anna Trejnowska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report on two studies that examined how young people (aged 16 to 24 years) working in public-facing jobs report experiences of workplace violence from dealing with the public. In Study 1, 65% (n=227) of respondents (N=349) reported experiencing violence in the preceding year, with verbal abuse being significantly higher for call centre workers and assaults higher among public sector workers. Psychological symptoms following violence were higher among participants aged 18 years or over than younger workers. Study 2 identified five themes relevant to participants’ (N=20) experiences, namely (1) violence is part of the job; (2) front line employees are targets; (3) power favours the customer; (4) any customer can be violent, and (5) need for personal experience. These findings demonstrate the need for employers to address all aspects of their practices in order to address risks in the workplace and to promote the psychological well-being of their employees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-47
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Social Sciences and Humanities
Issue number2
Early online date20 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • workplace violence
  • young workers
  • employment
  • risk
  • workplace safety


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