Preventing School Violence

Article written in the CDC

School violence describes violent acts that disrupt learning and have a negative effect on students, schools, and the broader community.

Examples of violent behavior include:

  • Bullying
  • Fighting (e.g., punching, slapping, kicking)
  • Weapon use
  • Cyberbullying
  • Gang violence

Places school violence occurs:

  • On school property
  • On the way to or from school
  • During a school-sponsored event
  • On the way to or from a school-sponsored event

How Big is the Problem?

According to CDC’s nationwide Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS):

  • Nearly 9% of high school students had been in a physical fight on school property one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.
  • About 6% of students had been threatened or injured with a weapon (for example, a gun, knife, or club) on school property one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.
  • About 7% of students had not gone to school at least 1 day during the 30 days before the survey because they felt they would be unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.

How can we Prevent Violence in Schools?

All students have the right to learn in a safe school environment. The good news is school violence can be prevented. No one factor in isolation causes school violence. Preventing school violence requires addressing factors at all levels of the social ecology—the individual, relational, community, and societal levels. Research shows that prevention efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, community members, and even students can reduce violence and improve the school environment.

CDC’s technical package, A Comprehensive Technical Package for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Associated Risk Behaviorspdf icon, helps communities and states prioritize prevention strategies based on the best available evidence.  Also available in Spanishpdf icon.

The strategies and approaches in the technical package are intended to shape individual behaviors as well as the relationship, family, school, community, and societal factors that influence risk and protective factors for violence. They are meant to work together and to be used in combination in a multi-level, multi-sector effort to prevent violence.

How can we prevent child abuse and neglect?

See Youth Violence Resources for articles, publications, data sources, and prevention resources for school violence.

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