April 21, 1999
Contact: CDC, Media Relations Division
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
- 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
- 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
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:
- 8.3% 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
- 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
- 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
- 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