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J Adolesc Health. 1995 Mar;16(3):209-15.

Fighting as a marker for multiple problem behaviors in adolescents.

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Epidemiology Program Office Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.



Behaviors that put adolescents at risk frequently occur together. To help identify high-risk adolescents, we analyzed a national, self-reported behavior survey of high school students to assess the suitability of fighting as a marker for students with multiple problem behaviors.


A cross-sectional cluster survey of 11,631 U.S. high school students in 1990 was used to compare the prevalence of recent problem behaviors among all students and those who fight.


One (8%) of every 12 students was in a fight during the 30 days before the survey. Reported problem behaviors were prevalent among fighters: during the previous 12 months, 24% attempted suicide; during the previous 30 days, 26% carried a firearm, 13% used cocaine, and 39% drove a motor vehicle while intoxicated; during the previous 3 months 41% had two or more sex partners; and 45% had sexual intercourse and did not use a condom the last time they had sex. Of all students, fighters accounted for 22% of those who reported attempting suicide, 49% carrying a firearm, 46% using cocaine, 18% driving while intoxicated, 25% having sex with multiple partners, and 11% not using condoms. Three or more of these six problem behaviors were reported by 26% of the fighters. The problem behaviors were all positively correlated, and the first principal component accounted for 35% of the total variation among the individual variables.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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