ABSTRACT To describe the frequency of violence-related behaviors and their association with other health behaviors among high school students.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey was administered to all ninth and eleventh graders (n = 2075) of a school district in Texas. It provided information regarding violence-related behaviors and other health behaviors. Students were classified into four mutually exclusive, violence-related categories according to whether they were involved in a physical fight and/or carried a weapon.
Overall, 20% of the students were involved in a physical fight but had not carried a weapon, 10% carried a weapon but had not been involved in a physical fight, and 17% had been involved in a physical fight and had carried a weapon. Prevalence of weapon-carrying and fighting were higher among males than females, and among ninth graders than eleventh graders. Among males, 48% had carried a weapon the month prior to the survey. Students who both fought and carried a weapon were 19 times more likely to drink alcohol six or more days than students who did not fight nor carried a weapon. Logistic regression analyses showed that drinking alcohol, number of sexual partners, and being in ninth grade were predictors of fighting. These three variables plus having a low self-perception of academic performance and suicidal thoughts were predictors of fighting and carrying a weapon.
The data indicate that violence-related behaviors are frequent among high school students and that they are positively associated with certain health behaviors. Interventions designed to reduce violence should also address coexisting health-risk behaviors and target high-risk groups.