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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2005

Indicator 13:
Physical Fights on School Property and Anywhere

The percentage of 9th- to 12th-grade students who reported being in a physical fight on school property has declined—from 16 percent in 1993 to 13 percent in 2003.

Schools where physical fights occur frequently may not be able to maintain a focused learning environment for students. Further, students who participate in fights on school property may have difficulty succeeding in their studies (Payne, Gottfredson, and Gottfredson 2003). In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, students in grades 9-12 were asked about their general involvement in physical fights during the preceding 12 months (referred to as “anywhere” in this report) and their involvement in physical fights on school property. In 2003, 33 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported being in a fight anywhere, and 13 percent said they had been in a fight on school property (table 13.1). Between 1993 and 2003, the percentage of students who reported being in a fight anywhere declined-from 42 percent in 1993 to 33 percent in 2003. Similarly, the percentage of students who reported fighting on school property in these years declined-from 16 to 13 percent.

In all survey years, males were more likely than females to have been in a fight anywhere and on school property (figure 13.1 and table 13.1). In 2003, 41 percent of males said they had been in a fight anywhere, compared with 25 percent of females. In the same year, 17 percent of males said they had been in a fight on school property, compared with 8 percent of females. When looking at grade levels, students in lower grades reported being in fights more frequently than students in higher grades, both anywhere and on school property (figure 13.2 and table 13.1). For example, in 2003, 18 percent of 9th-graders, 13 percent of 10th-graders, 10 percent of 11th-graders, and 7 percent of 12th-graders reported being in a fight on school property.

In 2003, the percentage of students engaging in fights anywhere varied according to race/ethnicity. Specifically, Black and Hispanic students were more likely than White students, and American Indian students were more likely than Asian and White students to report being in a fight anywhere and on school property. In 2003, 24 percent of American Indian students, 17 percent each of Black and Hispanic students, 13 percent of Asian students, and 10 percent of White students reported being in a fight on school property.

Urban students were more likely than rural students to engage in fights both anywhere and on school property. In 2003, 15 percent of urban students reported being in a fight on school property, compared with 10 percent of rural students. Student reports of being in a fight varied among states for which data were available, ranging from 26 to 35 percent anywhere and from 9 to 15 percent on school property (table 13.2).

Figure 13.1. Percentage of students in grades 9-12 who reported having been in a physical fight during the previous 12 months, by location and sex: Selected years, 1993-2003

Percentage of students in grades 9-12 who reported having been in a physical fight during the previous 12 months, by location and sex: Selected years, 1993-2003

NOTE: “On school property” was not defined for survey respondents. The term “anywhere” is not used in the YRBS questionnaire; rather, students are simply asked how many times in the last 12 months they had been in a physical fight.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” (YRBS), selected years, 1993-2003.
Figure 13.2. Percentage of students in grades 9-12 who reported having been in a physical fight during the previous 12 months, by location and grade: 2003

Percentage of students in grades 9-12 who reported having been in a physical fight during the previous 12 months, by location and grade: 2003

NOTE: “On school property” was not defined for survey respondents. The term “anywhere” is not used in the YRBS questionnaire; rather, students are simply asked how many times in the last 12 months they had been in a physical fight.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” (YRBS), 2003.
View Table 13.1 View Table 13.1View Table 13.2 View Table 13.2


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