Friday, August 22, 2014

Fight! Fight! Fight! No, actually. Way fewer teens are fighting than they used to.

AFP/Getty Images

Fewer high-schoolers are getting into fights. That's one takeaway from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which uncovered many promising trends about today's children, including the fact that they're drinking and smoking less.

We already knew that schools have been getting less violent: violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault) at schools are the lowest they've since 1992. And now it seems that everyday fights have also plummeted:

Kids are fighting less

Fight In 1991, 50 percent of male high-schoolers and 34 percent of female high-schoolers had been in a physical fight in the past twelve months. By 2013, it was down to 30 percent of males and 19 percent of females.

Overall, this is a 42 percent drop. So it seems that high-schoolers are better at solving their everyday squabbles without throwing punches. (They've also become slightly less likely to report being threatened or hurt by a weapon at school.)

Even so, kids are increasingly scared to go to school


The percentage of high-schoolers who skipped school because they were concerned about their safety has risen between 1993 and 2013, from 4.4 percent to 7.1 percent. Given the high profile mass shootings at schools, this isn't all that surprising. For example, you can see the increase in school absences around the Columbine shooting in 1999.

And kids still find nonphysical ways to hurt each other

Bullying The CDC hasn't been keeping track of bullying for very long, so it's difficult to say what the trends are. However, electronic bullying (cyberbullying) wasn't possible 20 years ago the same way it is today. It could be the case that a certain amount of bullying that was already there just got more electronic. Or maybe kids have switched to using text messages and in-person intimidation more than their fists.

Further reading:

  • This map shows every school shooting since Sandy Hook
  • Six reasons teen births are plummeting
  • How experts at Facebook and MIT are trying to solve the cyberbullying problem
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