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Ten-Year Secular Trends in Youth Violence: Results From the Philadelphia Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2003-2013

06 Mar 2017


Youth violence reduction is a public health priority, yet few studies have examined secular trends in violence among urban youth, who may be particularly vulnerable to numerous forms of violence. This study examines 10-year secular trends in the prevalence of violence-related behaviors among Philadelphia high school students.


Repeated cross-sectional data were analyzed from 5 waves of the Philadelphia Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from 2003 to 2013. Sex-specific multivariate regression models were used to examine secular trends in multiple types of violence, accounting for age, race/ethnicity, and sampling strategy.


In 2013, the most prevalent violent behavior was physical fighting among boys (38.4%) and girls (32.7%). Among girls, the prevalence of sexual assault and suicide attempts declined between 2003 and 2013 (β = −0.13, p = .04 and β = −0.14, p = .007, respectively). Among boys, significant declines in carrying a weapon (β = −0.31, p < .001), carrying a gun (β = −0.16, p = .01), and physical fighting (β = −0.35, p = .001) were observed.


Whereas the prevalence of some forms of violence stabilized or declined among Philadelphia youth during 2003-2013 time span, involvement in violence-related behaviors remains common among this population. Continued surveillance and evidence-based violence reduction strategies are needed to address violence among urban youth.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Journal of School Health