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Annual Reports and Information Staff (Annual Reports)
Preprimary, Elementary, and Secondary Education

Physical Fights on School Property and Anywhere

(Last Updated: May 2021)
This indicator also appears under School Crime and Safety.

The percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight anywhere during the previous 12 months was lower in 2019 than in 2009 (22 vs. 31 percent), and the percentage who reported having been in a physical fight on school property in the previous 12 months was also lower in 2019 than in 2009 (8 vs. 11 percent).

In the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), students in grades 9–12 were asked about their involvement in physical fights, both in general (referred to as “anywhere” in this indicator) and on school property, during the 12 months preceding the survey.1 In this indicator, percentages of students reporting involvement in a physical fight occurring anywhere are used as a point of comparison with percentages of students reporting involvement in a physical fight occurring on school property. Involvement in physical fights includes both aggressors and unwilling participants, or victims. This indicator examines differences in physical fighting by several characteristics, including gender, race/ethnicity, sexual identity, and grade-level.

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Figure 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 sex: Selected years, 2009 through 2019
Figure 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 sex: Selected years, 2009 through 2019

NOTE: The term “anywhere” is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) 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 respondents.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2009 through 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 231.10.

Figure 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: 2019
Figure 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: 2019

! 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 Surveillance System (YRBSS) 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 respondents. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 231.10.

Figure 3. 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 grade and location: 2019
Figure 3. 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 grade and location: 2019

NOTE: The term “anywhere” is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) 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 respondents.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS), 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 231.10.

Figure 4. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight during the previous 12 months, by number of times and location: 2019
Figure 4. Percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight during the previous 12 months, by number of times and location: 2019

NOTE: The term “anywhere” is not used in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) 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 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), 2019. See Digest of Education Statistics 2020, table 231.20.


1 “Anywhere” includes fights that occurred on school property. The term “anywhere” is not used in the YRBSS; 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 respondents.

2 U.S. total data are representative of all public and private school students in grades 9–12 in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. U.S. total data were collected through a separate national survey rather than being aggregated from state-level data. All discussions this indicator, except those at the state level, are based on data from the national survey.

3 In 2019, state-level data on the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight anywhere were available for 34 states and the District of Columbia (for detailed information by state, see the table on physical fighting anywhere for all locations in the YRBSS Youth Online Data Analysis Tool).

4 State-level data on the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported having been in a physical fight on school property were also available for 34 states and the District of Columbia (for detailed information by state, see the table on physical fighting on school property for all locations in the YRBSS Youth Online Data Analysis Tool). The group of states with available information on fights on school property was not the exact same group of states with available information on fights anywhere.

5 In this indicator, students who identified as “gay or lesbian” or “bisexual” are analyzed together as the “gay, lesbian, or bisexual” group. Students were not asked whether they identified as transgender in the YRBSS.

Supplemental Information

Table 231.10 (Digest 2020): 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 selected student characteristics: Selected years, 1993 through 2019;
Table 231.20 (Digest 2020): Percentage distribution of students in grades 9-12, by number of times they reported having been in a physical fight anywhere or on school property during the previous 12 months and selected student characteristics: 2019
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Previous versions of this indicator available in the Indicators of School Crime and Safety reports.
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