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Violence Among Middle School and High School Students: Analysis and Implications for Prevention, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1997
9 pages
Publication Series

This is a study of violent incidents among at-risk middle school and high school students.


The report identifies the type and frequency of violent incidents, focusing on such factors as the relationship among the antagonists; the sequence of events in the confrontation, including the opening moves; the goals and justifications cited by the students; and the role of third parties. The study was designed to generate information that can be used to take preventive action, early intervention to prevent escalation to more serious violence. Data were drawn from in-depth interviews with 110 students who attend public schools in which the level of violence is high. Analysis confirmed that opening moves in the confrontations involved such actions as minor slights and teasing and the incidents took place largely among young people who knew each other. The most troubling finding is that the students' violent behavior did not stem from lack of values, but was grounded in a well-developed set of values that considers such behavior a justifiable, commonsense way to achieve certain goals. In using these findings in violence prevention programs, reducing the frequency of the opening moves may be the most promising approach. Changing the underlying value system is more difficult, but is central to reducing violence. Exhibits, notes

Date Published: December 1, 1997