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School Violence At Record High

Some types of violent behavior are declining among U.S. teen-agers but conditions that threaten youth safety remain unacceptably high overall, according to a survey released recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The shootings at Columbine High School last April would lead one to believe violence in our nation's schools is spiraling out of control. But, that may not necessarily be the case, reports Correspondent Dave Hnida of CBS News affiliate KCNC-TV in Denver.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control studied patterns of non-fatal violence at American high schools from 1991 to 1997.

The survey found that the number of high school students carrying a weapon to school and the number of fights on school property has declined. Researchers concluded:

  • Students bringing weapons such as guns or knives to school has dropped by 30 percent.
  • Students involved in fights on school property has dropped by 10 percent.
  • Students injured by fighting who needed medical care dropped by 20 percent.

  • It remains to be seen, the report said, whether the more recent acts of school violence will result in more students carrying weapons to school.

    Reseachers found that one in ten students still bring a weapon to school and one third are involved in fights.

    "Despite these recent reductions, rates of youth homicide, non-fatal victimization and perpetration of violence remain at historically high levels," the report states.

    "In addition, this study did not find significant decreases in the percentage of students feeling too unsafe to go to school, being threatened or injured with a weapon on school property, or having property stolen or deliberately damaged at school," it added.

    The report also said there had been no decrease in the percentage of students carrying weapons other than guns "and in 1997 this behavior was twice as prevalent as gun carrying..."

    "Therefore, although the reductions in gun carrying and fighting are encouraging, the prevalence of youth violence and school violence is still unacceptably high," it concluded.

    The data came from the federal government's Youth Behavior Risk Surveys which have been conducted periodically since 1990 and involve a representative sample of U.S. teenagers. The sample size was not listed.

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