Violence among adolescents is a critical public health issue in the United States. In 2005, homicide was the second leading cause of death among persons aged 15–24 years.
Results from the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System indicate that 18.5 percent of high school students had carried a weapon (such as a gun, knife, or club) at some point during the preceding 30 days. Males were more than four times as likely as females to carry a weapon (29.8 versus 7.1 percent). Non-Hispanic White and Hispanic males were more likely than non-Hispanic Black males to carry a weapon (31.4 and 29.8 versus 23.7 percent, respectively), and non-Hispanic Black females were more likely than non-Hispanic White and Hispanic females (9.4 versus 6.0 and 7.8 percent, respectively). Just over 5 percent of students reported carrying a gun in the preceding 30 days, and males were more than 11 times as likely as females to do so. Almost 36 percent of students had been in a physical fight at least once in the preceding 12 months.
In 2005, 6.5 percent of students carried a weapon on school property on at least one of the preceding 30 days, which did not vary significantly by grade. Almost 8 percent of students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property in the preceding 30 days; this was relatively consistent across grades. Nearly 14 percent of high school students had been in a fight on school property in the preceding 12 months, and 6 percent of students missed school on at least one of the 30 preceding days because of safety concerns.