School violence is a serious public health problem. In 2008 youth violence was the second leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24. School violence refers to the incidence of violent behavior and crime specifically within educational institutions. School violence can be mild or severe and includes bullying, emotional and physical abuse, use of weapons, robbery, gang activities, assault, rape, suicide, and homicide.
Today, stories of radical incidences of school violence shown in the media (e.g. school shootings) may seem frequent; however, extreme forms of school violence are rare with less than one percent of school-aged homicides taking place on school property. Fortunately, studies show that the occurrence of school violence has been declining since the early 1990s.
Still, school violence, in whatever form, is a problem that can leave lasting negative effects on a child or young adult. Those with the highest risk of becoming victims of school violence are between the ages of 12 and 24. Studies show that each year one in 12 teens in high school is threatened or injured with a weapon. Beyond physical damage, victims, instigators, or witnesses of school violence may develop psychological problems including depression, anxiety, and immobilizing fear.
Common indicators of school violence include victimization, verbal harassment, classroom disorder, coercion, criminality, and physical assault. It takes the effort of the entire community to prevent school violence by reducing risk factors and fostering an environment where children and young adults feel they are safe.