U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Violence

Violence among adolescents is a critical public health issue in the United States. In 2005, homicide was the second leading cause of death among persons aged 15–24 years.

Results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System show that 18.0 percent of high school students had carried a weapon (such as a gun, club, or knife) at some point during the preceding 30 days in 2007. Males were about four times as likely as females to carry a weapon (28.5 versus 7.5 percent). Among male students, non-Hispanic Whites were the most likely to carry a weapon (30.3 percent) followed by Hispanics (28.2 percent), while non-Hispanic Blacks were least likely to carry a weapon (24.6 percent). The opposite was true among females: non-Hispanic Blacks were the most likely to carry a weapon (10.0 percent), followed by Hispanics (9.0 percent), while non-Hispanic White females were least likely to carry a weapon (6.1 percent). Just over 5 percent of students reported carrying a gun in the preceding 30 days, and males were more than 7 times as likely as females to do so.

In 2007, 12.4 percent of high school students reported being in a physical fight on school property during the 12 months preceding the survey. Males were twice as likely as females to be in a fight; this sex disparity was most pronounced among non-Hispanic Whites, where males were almost three times as likely as females to be in a fight. Overall, non-Hispanic Black students were the most likely to be in a physical fight on school property (17.6 percent), followed by Hispanic students (15.5 percent); non-Hispanic White students were least likely to be in a fight (10.2 percent).

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