School shootings may grab headlines, but when American youths were asked how often they had experienced some type of violence in the past month, the majority of students talked about emotional rather than physical violence.
In Youth Violence: Students Speak Out for a More Civil Society, a study of 1,000 fifth- through 12th-graders conducted by the Families and Work Institute and The Colorado Trust, the majority of respondents indicated that they had experienced some form of emotional violence in the past month:
• Two-thirds said they had been teased or gossiped about in a mean way.
• 57 percent admitted teasing or gossiping about someone else.
• 32 percent said they had been bullied.
• 23 percent said they bullied someone else.
Nearly half of those who responded said they had experienced physical violence:
• 46 percent of young people have been hit, shoved, kicked or tripped at least once in the past month.
• 18 percent have been physically hurt five times or more in the past month.
• 37 percent have committed acts of violence.
• 8 percent have been attacked with a weapon.
• 8 percent had been sexually assaulted.
When asked if they could make one change that would help stop the violence that young people experience, those surveyed said they wanted to stop emotional violence, such as gossiping, because they felt it led to physical violence. They also reported a desire to see society move away from celebrating sameness to truly embracing diversity.