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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2006 Sep;29(3):725-41.

An overview of juveniles and school violence.

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  • 1Inpatient Unit, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Longwood Adult Psychiatry Residency Training Program, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Despite the relative rarity of school shootings, targeted violence, and school-associated violent deaths, any youth who presents with words, gestures, or actions of a threatening or violent nature in a school setting should be assessed and referred for further evaluation by a mental health professional and, if clinically indicated, a forensic evaluator.The request for a juvenile risk assessment for future dangerousness requires careful delineation of role and agency; confidentiality issues; a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of the youth; and a detailed assessment of the youth's perceived threat or problematic behavior. Various protective and risk factors and consideration of other individual, family, school/peer, and situational factors should also be explored.There is still much information that is unknown when considering school violence or targeted school violence. There is clearly a need for additional research on the identification of at-risk youths, the contributions and significance of various protective and risk factors, the impact of peer relationships, and perceived rejection, socioeconomic status, subtypes of aggression, and developmental stages. Examples of future research direction might include difference by gender, presence of affective or psychotic disorders, substance abuse, emerging characterologic disturbances, and physiologic markers, such as cortisol or serotonin. Additional research regarding best practices and the development of clinical guidelines or practice parameters is also needed.

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