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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008
NCES 2009-022
April 2009

Indicator 13: Physical Fights on School Property and Anywhere

The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being in a physical fight on school property decreased from 16 percent in 1993 to 12 percent in 2007.

Schools where physical fights occur frequently may not be able to maintain a focused learning environment for students. Also, 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 (referred to as "anywhere" in this indicator) during the preceding 12 months, as well as about their involvement in physical fights on school property.36 Fights occurring anywhere are included as a point of comparison with fights occurring on school property. In 2007, 36 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported having been in a fight anywhere, and 12 percent said they had been in a fight on school property (figure 13.1 and table 13.1). The percentage of students who reported having been in a fight anywhere decreased from 1993 to 2003 (from 42 to 33 percent). From 2003 to 2005, this percentage rose to 36 percent, but no measurable change was seen between 2005 and 2007. The percentage of students who reported having been in a fight on school property declined from 16 percent in 1993 to 12 percent in 2007.

In all survey years, a higher percentage of males than females reported having been in a fight both anywhere and on school property (figure 13.1 and table 13.1). In 2007, 44 percent of males said they had been in a fight anywhere, compared with 27 percent of females. In the same year, 16 percent of males said they had been in a fight on school property, compared with 9 percent of females. From 1993 through 2003, the percentage of both males and females who reported they had been in a fight anywhere decreased. The percentage of males reporting they had been in a fight on school property decreased from 1993 to 2007, however, there was no measurable change in the percentage of females who reported fighting on school property.

Generally, a higher percentage of students in 9th grade reported having been in fights than students in 11th and 12th grades, both anywhere and on school property (figure 13.2 and table 13.1). For example, in 2007, 41 percent of 9th-graders compared with 35 percent of 11th-graders, and 28 percent of 12thgraders reported having been in a fight anywhere. Similarly, 17 percent of 9th-graders compared with 11 percent of 11th-graders, and 9 percent of 12thgraders reported being in a fight on school property in 2007.

The percentage of students engaging in fights varied according to their race/ethnicity in 2007. A smaller percentage of Asian students than students from all other racial/ethnic groups reported having been in a fight anywhere. Twenty-four percent of Asian students reported being in a fight, compared with 32 to 48 percent of students from other racial/ethnic groups. In addition, a higher percentage of Black students and students of more than one race reported having been in a fight anywhere than their White, Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native peers. A lower percentage of Asian and White students reported having been in a fight on school property in 2007 than Black students, Hispanic students, American Indian/Alaska Native students, or students of more than one race (8 and 10 percent vs. 15 to 20 percent).

In 2007, the percentage of students who reported having been in a fight anywhere (38 states and the District of Columbia) and on school property (39 states and the District of Columbia) varied among the states and the District of Columbia for which data were available. Among these states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of students reporting being in a fight anywhere ranged from 24 percent in Iowa to 43 percent in the District of Columbia, while the percentage of students reporting being in a fight on school property ranged from 7 percent in Hawaii to 20 percent in the District of Columbia (table 13.2).

This indicator has been updated to include 2007 data. For more information: Tables 13.1 and 13.2 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008b).

36 "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents.

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