Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. SD 2.1 Physical Fighting by Youth

01/01/2000

Physical violence is a major cause of injury and homicide among adolescents.18 In 1999, almost half of all male students and one-quarter of female students in grades 9 through 12 reported having been involved in a physical fight during the previous year. However, the percentage of all students who reported involvement in a fight decreased significantly between 1991 and 1999, from 43 percent to 36 percent. For males, the percentage decreased from 50 percent in 1991 to 44 percent in 1999 (see Figure SD 2.1).

Differences by Age. For all the years included in Table SD 2.1, the percentage of students who reported being involved in fights decreased with age. In 1997, 45 percent of 9th-grade students and 29 percent of 12th-grade students reported being involved in a fight. It is unclear, however, whether this pattern reflects the effects of increasing maturity, a change in the propensity to report having been in a fight, or a tendency for violence-prone youth to drop out of school, leaving a less violent pool of students in the higher grades.

Differences by Race.19 In 1999, 33 percent of white students reported involvement in a physical fight within the past year, compared with 41 percent of black students and 40 percent of Hispanic students (see Table SD 2.1).

 

18 Injuries were the leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-olds in 1995 and 1996, accounting for 80 percent of all deaths. Injury-related mortality includes death from motor vehicle crashes, fires and burns, drowning, suffocation, and accidents caused by firearms and other explosive materials, among others. The rate of death from homicide for youth ages 15 through 19 more than doubled between 1970 and 1994 but decreased 37 percent between 1994 and 1997. (See, for injury-related and homicide mortality, the report section “Health Conditions and Health Care,” indicators HC 1.2 and HC 1.4, this report). See also: University of California at Los Angeles, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). “The Epidemiology of Homicide in Los Angeles, 1970-79.” Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1985. Cited in Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, Reprints from the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: 1990-1991 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1992, p. 37.
19 Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.

 

Figure SD 2.1 Percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States reporting that they have been in a physical fight within the past year, by gender: 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999

Sources: Unpublished tabulations of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) provided by the Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control, Kann et al., 1995, Table 6, p. 26; Kann et al., 1996, Table 6, p. 35; Kann et al., 1998, Table 6, p. 41.

 

Table SD 2.1 Percentage of students in grades 9 through 12 in the United States reporting that they have been in a physical fighta within the past year, by gender, grade, and race and Hispanic origin: 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, and 1999

  1991 1993 1995 1997 1999
  Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female Total Male Female
Total 43 50 34 42 51 32 39 46 31 37 46 26 36 44 27
Grade  
Ninth 51 58 43 50 59 41 47 55 37 45 56 32 41 50 33
Tenth 43 50 35 42 52 32 40 46 34 40 48 30 38 46 29
Eleventh 43 51 35 41 52 28 37 46 28 34 44 23 31 39 23
Twelfth 34 42 25 35 43 27 31 38 24 29 37 19 30 39 22
Race and Hispanic originb  
White 41 49 32 40 50 30 36 44 27 34 43 21 33 43 22
Black 51 58 44 50 58 42 42 49 35 43 49 38 41 44 39
Hispanic 41 49 35 43 52 34 48 56 40 41 50 30 40 51 30

a One or more times.
b Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Sources: Unpublished tabulations of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) provided by the Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control. Kann et al.; 1995, Table 6, p. 26; Kann et al.; 1996, Table 6, p. 35; Kann et al.; 1998, Table 6, p. 41.
 

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