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 - Jan 1 2002


  • Adolescent
  • Prevention
  • School failure
  • Violence
  • Youth

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