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Report: School Violence Drops

The massacre at Littleton High School on April 20 turned what was a safe school zone into a war zone. Thirteen were killed, dozens were wounded and an unaccountable number scarred in other ways.

In the face of such a tragedy, it's easy to get the feeling that violence in AmericaÂ's schools is spiraling out of control.

But a new study in this weekÂ's Journal of the American Medical Association says that may not necessarily be the case, reports Medical Correspondent Dr. Dave Hnida of CBS Station KCNC-TV.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied patterns of nonfatal violence at American high schools from 1991 to 1997.

They found the number of:

  • students bringing weapons to school — such as guns or knives — dropped by 30%
  • students involved in fights on school property dropped by 15%
  • students injured in fights and needing medical attention dropped by 20%
The decline was steeper for girls than it was for boys.

But even though the numbers are better, they arenÂ't good enough.

Researchers still found one in ten bring some weapon to school and a third had been involved in fights. And thatÂ's to say nothing of the students who skipped school because they were afraid.

The report's authors warned against interpreting results too optimistically. They wrote that rates of youth homicide and other violence are still at "historically high levels."

School boards, community task forces and politicians continue to search for the answer that will solve the problem, leaving students and their parents to wait for the bullet holes to be patched.