Indicator 13: Physical Fights on School Property and Anywhere
(Last Updated: July 2015)

The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being in a physical fight anywhere decreased between 1993 and 2013 (from 42 to 25 percent), and the percentage of students in these grades who reported being in a physical fight on school property also decreased during this period (from 16 to 8 percent).

In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, students in grades 9–12 were asked about their involvement in physical fights in general (referred to as "anywhere" in this indicator),47 as well as about their involvement in physical fights on school property, during the 12 months preceding the survey.48 In this indicator, percentages of students reporting involvement in fights occurring anywhere are used as a point of comparison with percentages of students reporting involvement in fights occurring on school property.

Overall, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being in a physical fight anywhere decreased between 1993 and 2013 (from 42 to 25 percent), and the percentage of students in these grades who reported being in a physical fight on school property also decreased during this period (from 16 to 8 percent; figure 13.1 and table 13.1). The percentage of students in these grades who reported being in a physical fight anywhere was lower in 2013 (25 percent) than in 2011 (33 percent); the percentage of those who reported being in a physical fight on school property was also lower in 2013 (8 percent) than in 2011 (12 percent).


Figure 13.1. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight at least one time during the previous 12 months, by location and grade: Selected years, 1993 through 2013

Figure 13.1. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical
       fight at least one time during the previous 12 months, by location and grade: Selected
       years, 1993 through 2013

NOTE: The term "anywhere" is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) questionnaire; students were simply asked how many times in the past 12 months they had been in a physical fight. In the question asking students about physical fights at school, "on school property" was not defined for survey respondents.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 1993 through 2013.


From 1993 through 2013, the percentages of students in grades 9–12 who reported being in a physical fight anywhere as well as a physical fight on school property decreased for all four grade levels. The 2013 percentages of 12th-graders who reported being in a physical fight, either anywhere or on school property, were lower than the percentages reported by 9th-, 10th-, and 11th-graders. In 2013, about 19 percent of 12th-graders reported being in a physical fight anywhere, compared with 28 percent of 9th-graders, 26 percent of 10th-graders, and 24 percent of 11th-graders. Similarly, 5 percent of 12th-graders, compared with 11 percent of 9th-graders, 8 percent of 10th-graders, and 7 percent of 11th-graders reported being in a physical fight on school property.

The percentages of 9th- to 12th-graders who reported being in a physical fight in 2013 differed by race/ ethnicity. For example, a higher percentage of Black students (35 percent) than of students of Two or more races (29 percent), Hispanic students (28 percent), Pacific Islander students (22 percent), White students (21 percent), and Asian students (16 percent) reported being in a physical fight anywhere (figure 13.2 and table 13.1). In addition, higher percentages of Hispanic students and students of Two or more races than of White students and Asian students reported being in a physical fight anywhere. With regard to the involvement of 9th- to 12th-graders in physical fights on school property, the same patterns by race/ ethnicity were observed. The percentage of students who reported being in a physical fight on school property was higher for Black students (13 percent) than for students of Two or more races (10 percent), Hispanic students (9 percent), Pacific Islander students (7 percent), White students (6 percent), and Asian students (5 percent), and the percentages were higher for students of Two or more races and Hispanic students than for White students and Asian students.


Figure 13.2. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight at least one time during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity and location: 2013

Figure 13.2. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical
       fight at least one time during the previous 12 months, by race/ethnicity and location:
       2013

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. The term "anywhere" is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) questionnaire; students were simply asked how many times in the past 12 months they had been in a physical fight. In the question asking students about physical fights at school, "on school property" was not defined for survey respondents.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2013.


Between 1993 and 2013, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being in a physical fight anywhere decreased for White students (from 40 to 21 percent), Hispanic students (from 43 to 28 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native students (from 50 to 32 percent). During the same period, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported being in a physical fight on school property decreased for White students (from 15 to 6 percent), Black students (from 22 to 13 percent), and Hispanic students (from 18 to 9 percent). The percentages of Asian students who reported being in a physical fight anywhere and on school property both decreased between 1999 (the first year separate data on Asian and Pacific Islander students were available) and 2013. The percentage of Pacific Islander students who reported being in a physical fight on school property also decreased between 1999 and 2013.

Students in grades 9–12 were also asked how often they had been in physical fights during the previous 12 months. In 2013, about 19 percent of students in these grades reported being in a physical fight anywhere 1 to 3 times, 4 percent reported being in a physical fight anywhere 4 to 11 times, and 2 percent reported being in a physical fight anywhere 12 or more times (figure 13.3 and table 13.2) during the 12-month period. When students in these grades were asked about the incidence of physical fights on school property during the 12-month period, 7 percent reported being in a physical fight on school property 1 to 3 times, 1 percent reported being in a physical fight on school property 4 to 11 times, and less than 1 percent reported being in a physical fight on school property 12 or more times.


Figure 13.3. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight during the previous 12 months, by location, number of times, and sex: 2013

Figure 13.3. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical
       fight during the previous 12 months, by location, number of times, and sex: 2013

! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
NOTE: The term "anywhere" is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) questionnaire; students were simply asked how many times in the past 12 months they had been in a physical fight. In the question asking students about physical fights at school, "on school property" was not defined for survey respondents. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2013.


The percentages of both male and female 9th- to 12th-graders who reported being in a physical fight both anywhere and on school property decreased between 1993 and 2013. About 30 percent of male students reported being in a physical fight anywhere in 2013 compared with 51 percent in 1993, and 11 percent reported being in a physical fight on school property in 2013 compared with 24 percent in 1993. About 19 percent of female students reported being in a physical fight anywhere in 2013 compared with 32 percent in 1993, and 6 percent reported being in a physical fight on school property in 2013 compared with 9 percent in 1993.

In 2013, a higher percentage of male than of female 9th- to 12th-graders reported being in a physical fight during the previous 12 months (30 vs. 19 percent; figure 13.3 and table 13.1). The reported frequency of fights involving students in these grades was also higher for males than for females (table 13.2). A higher percentage of males than of females reported being in a physical fight anywhere 1 to 3 times (22 vs. 16 percent), 4 to 11 times (5 vs. 3 percent), and 12 or more times (3 vs. 1 percent) during the 12-month period. Similar to the frequency of fights anywhere, in 2013, a higher percentage of males than of females in grades 9 through 12 reported that they had been in a physical fight on school property during the previous 12 months (11 vs. 6 percent). Additionally, a higher percentage of males than of females reported being in a physical fight on school property 1 to 3 times (9 vs. 5 percent), 4 to 11 times (1 percent vs. less than 1 percent), and 12 or more times (1 percent vs. less than 1 percent).

Data for the percentage of public school students who reported being in a physical fight anywhere in 2013 were available for 37 states, and data for physical fights on school property involving these students were available for 35 states. Among these states, the percentages of students who reported being in a physical fight anywhere ranged from 17 percent in Hawaii and Maine to 31 percent in Louisiana and Mississippi, and the percentages of students who reported being in a physical fight on school property ranged from 5 percent in Massachusetts to 14 percent in Mississippi and Maryland (table 13.3).

This indicator repeats information from the Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2014 report. For more information: Tables 13.1, 13.2, and 13.3, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014), (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss6304.pdf).

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47 "Anywhere" includes on school property.
48 The term "anywhere" is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) questionnaire; students were simply asked how many times in the past 12 months they had been in a physical fight. In the question asking students about physical fights at school, "on school property" was not defined for survey respondents.