Facts About Violence Among Youth and Violence in Schools
CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) has been working with the federal agencies and other partners in response to the President's charge to collectively come up with the solutions to youth and school violence. In addition, CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion studies youth violence on an ongoing basis.
CDC, and the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Justice, and the National School Safety Center have examined homicides and suicides associated with schools and identified common features of school-related violent deaths. The study examined events occurring to and from school, as well as on both public or private school property, or while someone was on the way or going to an official school-sponsored event. The original study published in 1996 yielded these findings:
Less that 1% of all homicides among school-aged children (5-19 years of age) occur in or around school grounds or on the way to and from school.
65% of school-associated violent deaths were students; 11% were teachers or other staff members; and 23% were community members who were killed on school property.
83% of school homicide or suicide victims were males.
28% of the fatal injuries happened inside the school building; 36% occurred outdoors on school property; and 35% occurred off campus.
The deaths included in this study occurred in 25 states across the country and happened in both primary and secondary schools and communities of all sizes.
Our society demands that schools be safe for our children, yet recent violent events indicate we need to redouble our efforts to prevent violence in schools at the same time we address violence in the larger community.
What CDC is doing to address this problem?
CDC and its partners are updating and expanding the original study, examining school-associated violent deaths between July 1994 and June 1998.
Study results to date show that there were 173 incidents between July 1, 1994 and June 30, 1998. The majority of these incidents were homicides and involved the use of firearms. The total number of events has decreased steadily since the 1992-1993 school year. However, the total number of multiple victim events appears to have increased. During the past three school years, August 1995 through June 1998, there were an average of five multiple victims events per year. This is compared to an average of one multiple victim event per year in the three years from August 1992 through July 1995. Thus, while the total number of events of school associated violent deaths have decreased, the total number of multiple-victim events appears to have increased. Data collection ended with the completion of the 1997-1998 academic year.
CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), is a school-based survey designed to producea nationally representative sample of risk behaviors among students in grades 9-12.
The 1997 YRBS reported that:
18.3% of high school students carried a weapon (e.g., gun, knife, or club) during the 30 days preceding the survey, down from 26.1% in 1991
5.9% of high school students carried a gun during the 30 days preceding the survey
8.5% of high school students carried a weapon on school property during the 30 days preceding the survey
7.4% of high school students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property during the 12 months preceding the survey.
Other facts from the 1997 YRBS report included:
Nationwide, 4% of students had missed 1 or more days of school during the 30 days preceding the survey because they had felt unsafe at school or when traveling to or from school.
The prevalence of weapon carrying on school property on 1 or more of the 30 days preceding the survey was 8.5% nationwide. Overall, male students (12.5%) were significantly more likely than female students (3.7%) to have carried a weapon on school property.
Nationwide, the prevalence of students who had been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property one or more times during the 12 months preceding the survey was 7.4%. Overall, male students (10.2%) were significantly more likely than female students (4%) to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.
Nationwide, 14.8% of students had been in a physical fight on school property one or more times during the 12 months preceding the survey. Overall, male students (20%) were significantly more likely than female students (8.6%) to have been in a physical fight on school property. This significant difference was identified for white and Hispanic students and all grade subgroups.
Approximately one third (32.9%) of students nationwide had property (car, clothing, or books) stolen or deliberately damaged on school property one or more times during the 12 months preceding the survey.
CDC's School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS) provides information about school health policies, including violence prevention. The 1994 SHPPS showed that among all school districts, 91 percent have a written policy prohibiting student violence and 80.3% have a policy that specifically addresses weapon possession and use among students.
CDC continually monitors the status of homicides of youth and adolescents as well as those homicides committed with a firearm.
CDC has supported firearm injury surveillance projects in seven states that focus on the development of state systems for routinely monitoring firearm injuries and related risk behaviors (e.g., safe storage, carrying weapons). The information generated from these surveillance systems will help policy-makers in states assess the magnitude of the firearm injury problem and evaluate programs and policies designed to prevent firearm injuries.
CDC has supported research that addresses firearm-related injuries. This research was designed to improve understanding of the motivations and deterrents for weapon carrying behavior among adolescents at high risk for firearm-related injuries; to estimate the injury risk associated with firearm storage and carriage practices; and address the effects of firearm safety training and education programs on firearm storage and carriage practices.
CDC is conducting research to prevent both youth violence and firearm-related violence. As an example, CDC has been conducting research to determine which interventions work to prevent violence among youth, both in schools and in the community. CDC will consolidate these evaluation projects on the prevention of youth violence and provide it to programs throughout the U.S. to show what works to prevent youth violence.
Preliminary findings include the following:
Baseline surveys confirm that violent behavior is a problem for young people. For example, four projects reported that 10% of participants had recently carried a gun. Moreover, there was a general concern about exposure to violence in schools and neighborhoods.
The full involvement of the community is critical to developing a sense of ownership for the problem of violence and its solutions.
The projects found that effective strategies include school-based curricula that emphasize the development of problem solving skills, anger management, and other strategies that help kids develop social skills. In addition, parenting programs that promote strong bonding between parents and children and that teach parents skills in managing conflict in the family, as well as mentoring programs for young people, are also very promising.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES