Violence risk and protective factors among youth held back in school

Iris Wagman Borowsky, Marjorie Ireland, Michael D. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Objective. - To identify risk and protective factors for violence perpetration among youth with a history of grade retention. Design. - Longitudinal analysis of in-home interviews of 13781 adolescents in grades 7 through 12 conducted in 1995 and 1996. Methods and Measures. - Serious interpersonal violence perpetration at time 2 by time 1 independent variables including measures of community and school context, family context, and individual characteristics. Results. - The 20% of girls and 28% of boys who had repeated 1 or more grades were more likely than those who had not to be in the top quintile of violence perpetration at time 2 (P < .001). For both girls and boys with a history of grade repetition, predictive risk factors with an odds ratio of 3 or greater (P < .001) included time 1 violence perpetration, violence victimization, weapon carrying, school problems, and alcohol and marijuana use. Although a high grade point average was a significant protective factor against violence perpetration for both girls (odds ratio, 0.36; P < .05) and boys (odds ratio, 0.23; P < .001), performance on a validated measure of verbal knowledge was not associated with violence perpetration over the study period. School connectedness, parent-family connectedness, and emotional well-being were also significant universal protectors against violence perpetration. Conclusions. - Youth who are held back in school are at heightened risk for violence perpetration. Violence-related behaviors and substance use considerably increase the likelihood of this outcome. The findings suggest that schools can participate in violence prevention by providing youth with a positive community and academic experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-484
Number of pages10
JournalAmbulatory Pediatrics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant R49/CCR511638-03-2 from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The research is based on data from the Add Health project, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry (principal investigator) and Peter Bearman, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with cooperative funding participation by the National Cancer Institute; the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; the National Institute of Drug Abuse; the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; the National Institute of Mental Health; the National Institute of Nursing Research; the Office of AIDS Research, National Institutes of Health (NIH); the Office of Behavior and Social Science Research, NIH; the Office of the Director, NIH; the Office of Research on Women's Health, NIH; the Office of Population Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS); the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS; the Office of Minority Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHHS; the Office of Minority Health, Office of Public Health and Science, DHHS; the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, DHHS; and the National Science Foundation. Persons interested in obtaining data files from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health should contact Jo Jones, Carolina Population Center, 123 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-3997 (e-mail: ).


  • Adolescent
  • Prevention
  • School failure
  • Violence
  • Youth


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