Trends and Socioeconomic Correlates of Adolescent Physical Fighting in 30 Countries

Departments of Community Health and Epidemiology, and.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.47). 12/2012; 131(1). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-1614
Source: PubMed


Background and objectives:
No recent international studies provide evidence about its prevalence, trends, or social determinants of physical fighting in adolescents. We studied cross-national epidemiologic trends over time in the occurrence of frequent physical fighting, demographic variations in reported trends, and national wealth and income inequality as correlates.

Cross-sectional surveys were administered in school settings in 2002, 2006, and 2010. Participants (N = 493874) included eligible and consenting students aged 11, 13, and 15 years in sampled schools from 30 mainly European and North American countries. Individual measures included engagement in frequent physical fighting, age, gender, participation in multiple risk behaviors, victimization by bullying, and family affluence. Contextual measures included national income inequality, absolute wealth and homicide rates. Temporal measure was survey cycle (year).

Frequent physical fighting declined over time in 19 (63%) of 30 countries (from descriptive then multiple Poisson regression analyses). Contextual measures of absolute wealth (relative risk 0.96, 95% confidence interval 0.93-0.99 per 1 SD increase in gross domestic product per capita) but not income inequality (relative risk 1.01, 95% confidence interval 0.98-1.05 per 1 SD increase) related to lower levels of engagement in fighting. Other risk factors identified were male gender, younger age (11 years), multiple risk behaviors, victimization by bullying, and national homicide rates.

Between 2002 and 2010, adolescent physical fighting declined in most countries. Specific groups of adolescents require targeted violence reduction programs. Possible determinants responsible for the observed declines are discussed.

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    • "Whereas some international research in schools indicated that forms of violence (Pickett et al., 2012) and bullying (Finkelhor, 2013; Kim et al., 2009; Molcho et al., 2009; Rigby & Smith, 2011;) in student-to-student victimization tended to decrease during last thirty years in general prevalence whereby being still a significant serious problem for students, teachers, staff, and parents. Pupils targeted bullying in the schools has received in the literature more attention than teacher targeted bullying, especially when viewing teachers as multi-targeted victims and when describing teacher targeted workplace bullying trends over times (e.g. "
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    • "A ggressive behavior in youth is a serious community problem, and is a common reason for referral to pediatric mental health services, contributing to almost 50% of presentations (Scott et al. 2001; Connor 2002; Dean et al. 2006; Pickett et al. 2013). Aggression contributes to poor educational achievement, reduced employment prospects, social isolation, violence, crime and suicide (Scott et al. 2001; Bor 2004; Connor et al. 2006). "
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