Purpose School violence, frequently resulting in serious injury, is a major public health concern, and can make students afraid to go school. Few studies investigate the myriad factors that contribute to school violence. We are conducting a mixed-methods study of school assaults, including violence that happen on the way to or from school.
Approach In an urban environment, this NIJ-funded study of 12-18 year-olds involves using a map-based interview of the path of their activities up to the time of assault, with case-crossover analyses to identify situation-specific risk factors. Recruitment sites include a Level I trauma center, health clinics, and community centers.
Results With a goal of 200, 45 participants have been enrolledto date: 85% African American, 4% Hispanic. Injuries sustained were blunt trauma (42%), concussion (23%), and fracture (4%). 50% of the incidents were described as random violence, 35% as non-gang fight, and 8% as gang fight. 38% occurred inside school, 27% on school grounds, and 4% off site. None had been carrying a weapon at the time of the injury. Only 18% reported they knew how to acquire a gun, and 43% reported they would tell a teacher if a student had a gun at school whereas 57% reported they would not do so. Importantly, 65% of incidents were reported to police and of those, 80% of participants felt the police were helpful. However 50% of respondents felt the conflict was not resolved. 60% had a teacher highly invested in them and 65% reported a teacher expects them to attend college. Thematic results thus far suggest students were vulnerable at moments when guardianship was absent, which varied from location to location during the school day.
Conclusions and Significance Understanding the context of the timing and nature of school-based assaults can inform opportunities for place-based interventions.
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