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J Adolesc Health. 1998 Aug;23(2):103-9.

Self-reported characterization of seventh-grade students' fights.

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South Troy Health Center, New York, USA.



To determine the characteristics of recent fights among seventh-grade students at public middle schools in three dissimilar U.S. communities.


The study sample was composed of 289 seventh-grade students at public middle schools in three U.S. communities who participated in fights during the previous 6 months. Students at each site completed a self-administered two-part questionnaire (developed for this study) in May or October 1991. Pearson Chi-square test was performed to determine the association among characteristics of the fights, weapon use, and injury severity.


One or more weapons were present at 43% of the fights, weapons were used to threaten or injure in 23%, and stab or gunshot wounds were reported in 10%. Fights with five or more participants or with participants who were intoxicated or gang members involved more weapon use and more severe injury (p < 0.02). There was more frequent weapon use occurring away from home and school (p < 0.01). Spectators were present at 87% of the fights, and when they attempted to mediate or end the fighting, injury severity was lower. Students who often carry a weapon were much more likely to report involvement in fights in which weapons were used and to suffer more severe injuries (p < 0.02).


Seventh-graders' fights frequently involve the threat and actual use of weapons. The large number of participants and spectators at many of the fights with the most severely injurious outcomes implies that social factors and not exclusively poor conflict resolution skills are important factors precipitating fights among seventh-grade students.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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