Violence at School: Recent Evidence from Four National Surveys


Kingery, P. M. & Coggeshall, M. B. (1998). Violence at School: Recent Evidence from Four National Surveys. Psychology in the Schools. vol. 35 (3) pp. 247-258


Anonymous surveys of youth in school provide the most accurate source of data about violent incidents that occur in schools. Four surveys (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the Monitoring the Future Survey, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and the National Crime Victimization Survey School Crime Supplement) using nationally representative samples that include questions about violence are administered among school-aged youth; all four were given in 1995. The data from those four databases are reviewed in this article to assess risk factors for weapon carrying (one of the most potentially dangerous behaviors facing schools today) and the level of the school violence problem. In this review, fighting, threats, theft, weapon carrying, and fearfulness at school are examined by grade by gender and found to be at high levels despite a probable underestimation bias in three of the four surveys. The percentage of youths in grades 9–12 who were involved in a single fight in a given year declined in recent years while the prevalence of more frequent fighting has not. The most important risk factors identified for carrying weapons at school dealt with the student's involvement with violence in the broader community context both as perpetrator and victim. Selling drugs, having high disposable income, feeling distant from people in their school, and feeling that people in their neighborhood don't look out for each other were moderately important. Efforts to prevent this trajectory toward violence and crime should begin early before patterns are established and before school failure is likely.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Psychology in the Schools


Kingery, P. M.
Coggeshall, M. B.

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number






Reference ID