Violence among adolescents is a critical public health issue in the United States. In 2007 (the latest year for which data are available), homicide was the second leading cause of death among persons aged 15–24 years.
Results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System show that, in 2009, 17.5 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 nearly four times as likely as females to carry a weapon (27.1 versus 7.1 percent). Among male students, non-Hispanic Whites were the most likely to carry a weapon (29.3 percent), followed by Hispanics (26.5 percent), while non-Hispanic Blacks were least likely to carry a weapon (21.0 percent). Among females, non-Hispanic Whites were least likely to carry a weapon (6.5 percent) while Hispanics were most likely (7.9 percent). Nearly 6 percent of students reported carrying a gun in the preceding 7 days, and males were nearly six times more likely than females to do so (data not shown).
In 2009, 11.1 percent of high school students reported being in a physical fight on school property during the preceding 12 months. Males were more than twice as likely as females to be in a fight; this sex disparity was most pronounced among non-Hispanic Whites, where males were almost three times as likely as females to be in a fight. Overall, non- Hispanic Black students were most likely to be in a physical fight on school property (17.4 percent), followed by Hispanic students (13.5 percent); Asian students were least likely to be in a fight (7.7 percent).