CDC Says Youth Violence in America Has Become a Public Health Problem

By Charles David Henry

Youth violence has become a public health problem across the United States, according to several reports by the Centers for Disease Control. It is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Bullying occurred against 25 percent of high school students during 2007-08, according to Understanding Bullying. A much higher percentage of middle schools reported daily or weekly occurrences of bullying compared to high schools.

Bullying is one of the major reasons for youth violence. The report found, anyone could be a bully, a victim or both.

San Quentin prisoner Mark Edwards was asked whether he was ever a bully, bullied or both. He said, “The use of violence was sometimes necessary when I was in middle and high school.” He added, “I had to fight to protect myself. There were other times when I had to show off. No one got seriously hurt.”

Approximately seven percent of teachers reported being threatened with injury or physical attacks by students from their schools, the report said.

School bullying prevention programs are widely implemented but infrequently evaluated, according to the report.

In 2010, 17 children aged 5 to 18 years old were murdered on school campus, reports Understanding School Violence. Almost 5,000 young people aged 10 to 24 were victims of homicide away from school property, reports Understanding Youth Violence. An average of 13 youths died each day, the report found.

Deaths resulting from school violence are only part of the problem.

In 2010, 828,000 nonfatal injuries occurred at schools among students ages 12 to 18. The injuries included minor cuts, bruises and broken bones, according the report.

More than 707,000 young people ages 10-24 were treated in emergency rooms after being physically assaulted in 2011 – an average of 1,938 each day.

Five percent of high school students reportedly took weapons to school.

Because of these statistics, the U.S. Surgeon General’s goal is “to stop school violence from happening in the first place.”

The CDC and Surgeon General are encouraging school administrators and parents to learn how to report any act of violence or bullying.

The CDC is also corroborating with the U.S. Department of Education to study schools from around the country linked with violent deaths, in an effort to monitor this public health concern.

To learn more about these prevention programs, school administrators, law enforcement members and parents can visit:

Centers for Disease Control Division of Violence Prevention Centers for Disease Control Division of Adolescent and School Health bullying

Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence

School-Associated Violent Death Study Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS)

School Health Index (SHI) Centers for Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention (ACEEs)

Guide to Community Preventive Services


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