Preventing School Violence

What is school violence?
Preventing School Violence

School violence describes violent acts that disrupt learning and have a negative effect on students, schools, and the broader community. School is the location where the violence occurs, not a type of violence.

Examples of violent behavior include:

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?

In 2019, CDC’s nationwide Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) was administered to high school students across the United States. According to YRBS resultspdf icon from 13, 677 students:

  • About 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied on school property, and more than 1 in 12 high school students reported being cyberbullied in the last year.
  • 8% of high school students had been in a physical fight on school property one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.
  • More than 7% of high school 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 9% of high school 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.

According to a report based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,965 students in grades 7–12 from the American Association of University Women (AAUW)pdf iconexternal icon:

  • 48% of students in grades 7–12 experienced some form of sexual violence at school during the 2010–11 school year.
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. Many factors contribute to school violence. Preventing school violence requires addressing factors at 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 packages help communities and states prioritize prevention strategies based on the best available evidence. The strategies and approaches in the technical packages 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.

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

Page last reviewed: October 28, 2020