Youth Violence Across Multiple Dimensions

A Study of Violence, Absenteeism, and Suspensions Among Middle School Children

Published In: The Journal of Pediatrics, v. 161, no. 3, Sep. 2012, p. 542–546.e2

Posted on RAND.org on September 01, 2012

by Marizen Ramirez, Yuan Wu, Sheryl H. Kataoka, Marleen Wong, Jingzhen Yang, Corinne Peek-Asa, Bradley D. Stein

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OBJECTIVE: To determine how multidimensional measures of violence correlate with school absenteeism and suspensions among middle school youth. STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2004 with 28 882 sixth graders from an urban school district. Data were collected on role (witness, victim, perpetrator) and mode (verbal, physical, weapons) of past-year violence exposures, and absences and suspensions over 1 academic year. Associations between violence and absenteeism and suspension were estimated using generalized linear models. RESULTS: ORs for suspension increased from witnessing to victimization to perpetration and then victimization-perpetration. Among those exposed to weapons, victims (OR(boys) = 1.45; OR(girls) = 1.38) had similar or slightly higher ORs for absenteeism than perpetrators (OR(boys) = 1.39; OR(girls) = 1.17). Boy victims and witnesses of physical violence had similar absenteeism patterns as those unexposed to physical violence. Of all exposed girls, victim-perpetrators had the highest ORs for absenteeism (OR = 1.76). CONCLUSION: Exposure to violence correlated with absenteeism and suspension. The strength of these relationships depended on mode and role in exposure. Our cross-sectional data limits our ability to establish causality. Findings have implications for prevention.

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