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J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2008 Oct;29(5):351-9. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e318175330d.

Violent adolescents and their educational environment: a multilevel analysis.

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Research Group on Adolescent Health, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.



This study examined the respective roles of personal and environmental factors in youth violence in a nationally representative sample of 7548 postmandatory school students and apprentices ages 16-20 years in Switzerland.


Youth violence was defined as having committed at least one of the following in the previous 12 months: attacking an adult, snatching something, carrying a weapon, or using a weapon in a fight. Different ecological levels were tested, resulting in a three-level model only in males (individual, classroom, and school) as the low prevalence of female violence did not allow for a multilevel analysis. Dependent variables were attributed to each level. For males, the classroom level (10%) and the school level (24%) accounted for more than one third in interindividual variance.


Factors associated with violence perpetration in females were being a victim of physical violence and sensation seeking at the individual level. In males, practicing unsafe sex, sensation seeking, being a victim of physical violence, having a poor relationship with parents, being depressed, and living in a single-parent household at the individual level; violence and antisocial acts at the classroom level; and being in a vocational school at the school level showed a correlation with violence perpetration.


Interventions at the classroom level as well as an explicit school policy on violence and other risk behaviors should be considered a priority when dealing with the problem of youth violence. Furthermore, prevention should take into account gender differences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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