Objectives: This study examined the extent to which individual and family factors are associated with aggression and fighting behavior among African-American middle school adolescents.
Methods: Four hundred thirty-six African-American boys and girls from two middle schools in a predominantly low-income North Carolina school system were surveyed and their school records examined. Information was collected concerning students' aggression levels, school fighting behavior, school suspensions for fighting, attitudes toward violence, perceptions of their families' attitudes toward violence, weapon-carrying behavior, and sociodemographics. Multivariate analyses were employed to predict the students' aggression levels, fighting behavior, and school suspensions.
Results: Factors related to the individual adolescents, such as gender, age, weapon-carrying behavior, and attitudes toward violence, were associated with students' reports of aggression and fighting behavior. Factors related to family and school were associated with school suspension for fighting.
Conclusions: This study suggests that violence prevention programs set in our elementary and middle schools may reduce aggression and fighting among our youth. School teachers and public health practitioners are encouraged to work together in understanding and preventing adolescent violence.