School Violence

What is school violence? [7]

School violence is a major facet of the broad health problem that is youth violence. This involves any physical force or power that is used intentionally against another person or group, with physical or psychological harm being the likely result. Youth violence, which typically occurs between the ages of 10 and 24, is likely to originate from violence that begins in early childhood.

Examples of violent behavior include:

  • Bullying
  • Fighting or hitting
  • Use of weapons
  • Electronic aggression
  • Gang violence

School violence occurs:

  • At the school
  • On the way to or from school
  • During a school-sponsored event
  • On the way to or from a school-sponsored event

Prevalence: [8]

The Center for Disease Control surveys high school students (grades 9-12) every two years to assess problems affecting youth. They found that at least one day during the 30 days before the survey:

  • 6% of students carried a weapon,
  • 8% of students had been in a physical fight,
  • 9% of students did not go to school out of fear for their safety,
  • and 7% of teachers report being threatened with injury or physically attacked by a student from their school [9].

Risk factors: [10]

Community poverty, poor family functioning, association with delinquent peers, poor grades in school, prior history of violence, access to weapons, school size, and drug, alcohol, and/or tobacco use are all risk factors that may affect resilience to school violence.


Bullying is unwanted, repeated aggressive actions that occur over time. This sort of behavior usually occurs to a real or perceived imbalance of power among the parities. Not only does this cause very serious health problems in the individuals that are bullied, but also affects the individual that bullies.

Bullying may take on many forms: [1]

  • 19% made fun of, called names, or insulted
  • 16% subject to rumors
  • 9% pushed, shoved, tripped, spit on
  • 6% threatened with harm
  • 6% cyber-bullied
  • 5% excluded from activities
  • 4% forced to do things they did not want to do

Gender and bullying: [2]

Both boys and girls experience similar rates of verbal attacks, damage to property, or threats of violence. While boys are more likely to be physically bullied, girls are more likely to be the victim of rumor spreading and being excluded from groups or activities.

Age as a factor of bullying: [3]

Being made fun of, threatened, excluded, being forced to partake in activities, or being the victim of physical bullying such as pushing or tripping is more likely to happen in middle school.

On the other hand, high schoolers are more likely to be cyber-bullied.

The impact and effects of school violence: [4][5][6][11]

Kids who are bullied are more likely to have:

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Harmed themselves
  • High levels of suicide thoughts
  • Attempted suicide
  • Avoided school
  • Lower academic achievement

Prevention: [12]

  • Parent and community involvement
  • Character education
  • Violence-prevention and conflict-resolution curricula
  • Peer mediation
  • Bullying prevention programs and education

In addition, school mentoring, parent and family-based programs [13], and “zero tolerance” policies in schools have been found to be effective [14] in preventing bullying.


See a helpful infographic on bullying.

Understand school violence through a fact sheet.

If someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

[1] Robers, S. (2010). Indicators of school crime and safety: 2010. DIANE Publishing.

[2] Cook, C. R., Williams, K. R., Guerra, N. G., Kim, T. E., & Sadek, S. (2010). Predictors of bullying and victimization in childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic investigation. School Psychology Quarterly25(2), 65.

[3] DeVoe, J., & Murphy, C. (2011). Student reports of bullying and cyber-bullying: Results from the 2009 school crime supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Washington, DC: US Department of Education and American Institutes for Research. 

[4] Klomek, A. B., Marrocco, F., Kleinman, M., Schonfeld, I. S., & Gould, M. S. (2008). Peer victimization, depression, and suicidiality in adolescents. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior38(2), 166-180.

[5] Gini, G., & Pozzoli, T. (2009). Association between bullying and psychosomatic problems: A meta-analysis. Pediatrics123(3), 1059-1065.

[6] Nakamoto, J., & Schwartz, D. (2010). Is peer victimization associated with academic achievement? A meta‐analytic review. Social Development19(2), 221-242.

[7] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). About school violence. Retrieved from

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States. Retrieved from

[9] Robers, S., Zhang, J., Truman, J., & Synder, T. D. (2011). Indicators of School Crime and Safety. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Available from

[10] Constitutional Rights Foundation. (2015). Causes of school violence. Retrieved from

[11] O’Keefe, M. (1997). Adolescents’ exposure to community and school violence: Prevalence and behavioral correlates. Journal of Adolescent Health, 20(5), 368-376.

[12] Peterson, R. L., & Skiba, R. (2001). Creating school climates that prevent school violence. The Clearing House, 74(3), 155-163.

[13] Thornton, T. N., Craft, C. A., Dahlberg, L. L., Lynch, B. S., & Baer, K. (2000). Best practices of youth violence prevention: A sourcebook for community action.

[14] Osterman, K. F. (2002). Preventing school violence. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(8), 622.