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Study Finds School Violence Preventable - 2001-12-04


A new study of violence in U.S. schools has found that deadly incidents could be preventable.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, analyzed all school-related violent deaths between 1994 and 1999.

They counted a total of 253 deaths resulting from 220 violent incidents. The researchers defined violent incidents as those involving homicides or suicides at school, to or from school, or occurring during the course of school functions.

Lead researcher Mark Anderson of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says the number of student-related homicides decreased significantly over previous years. But the number of multiple-victim incidents went up.

And there were some interesting findings regarding students who perpetrate violent crimes on school property. "When we compared the characteristics of student homicide offenders to student homicide victims, offenders were nearly seven times as likely to have expressed some type of suicidal behavior before the event," he said. "These behaviors might have included suicidal thoughts, making plans for suicide or actually attempting suicide."

In addition, Mr. Anderson says offenders were nearly twice as likely as victims to have been bullied in the past.

The good news, he says, is that school violence is preventable with the right interventions. "For instance, many of the events were preceded by a signal of some type," he said. "School administrators, teachers and parents need to develop mechanisms for reporting threats and other actions that may warn of a potential event."

The CDC Researcher says programs to teach social skills are also very effective in defusing disputes among students so they don't erupt in school violence.

In addition to the CDC, officials at the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education contributed to the study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Over the past decade there have been dozens of violent incidents involving students using guns to kill their fellow students. The new study indicates the headline grabbing incidents claim the lives of about one in one million American students.

A new study of violence in U.S. schools has found that deadly incidents could be preventable.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, analyzed all school-related violent deaths between 1994 and 1999.

They counted a total of 253 deaths resulting from 220 violent incidents. The researchers defined violent incidents as those involving homicides or suicides at school, to or from school, or occurring during the course of school functions.

Lead researcher Mark Anderson of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says the number of student-related homicides decreased significantly over previous years. But the number of multiple-victim incidents went up.

And there were some interesting findings regarding students who perpetrate violent crimes on school property. "When we compared the characteristics of student homicide offenders to student homicide victims, offenders were nearly seven times as likely to have expressed some type of suicidal behavior before the event," he said. "These behaviors might have included suicidal thoughts, making plans for suicide or actually attempting suicide."

In addition, Mr. Anderson says offenders were nearly twice as likely as victims to have been bullied in the past.

The good news, he says, is that school violence is preventable with the right interventions. "For instance, many of the events were preceded by a signal of some type," he said. "School administrators, teachers and parents need to develop mechanisms for reporting threats and other actions that may warn of a potential event."

The CDC Researcher says programs to teach social skills are also very effective in defusing disputes among students so they don't erupt in school violence.

In addition to the CDC, officials at the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education contributed to the study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Over the past decade there have been dozens of violent incidents involving students using guns to kill their fellow students. The new study indicates the headline grabbing incidents claim the lives of about one in one million American students.

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