OBJECTIVES: To outline the prevalence and disparities of aggression and violence among school-aged urban minority youth, causal pathways through which aggression and violence adversely affects academic achievement, and proven or promising approaches for schools to address these problems.
METHODS: Literature review.
RESULTS: Recent national data indicate that among students aged 12-18, approximately 628,200 violent crimes and 868,100 thefts occurred. Physical fighting was more commonly reported by Blacks and Hispanics (44.7% and 40.4%, respectively) than Whites (31.7%). In-school threats and injuries were nearly twice as prevalent in cities as in suburbs and towns or rural areas (10% vs 6% and 5%, respectively). Associations between exposure to and exhibition of aggression and violence and unfavorable educational outcomes are well documented. Causal pathways through which aggression and violence impede learning include cognition, school connectedness, and absenteeism. Disruptive classroom behavior is a well-recognized and significant impediment to teaching and learning. Compelling research has shown that various school-based programs can significantly reduce the nature and extent of aggressive and violent behaviors.
CONCLUSIONS: Violence and aggressive behavior are highly and disproportionately prevalent among school-aged urban minority youth, have a negative impact on academic achievement by adversely affecting cognition, school connectedness, and absenteeism, and effective practices are available for schools to address this problem. Once the domain of criminal justice, aggression and violence are now recognized as an appropriate and important focus of the education and public health systems. Implementing evidence-based school policies and programs to reduce aggression and violence must be a high priority to help close the achievement gap.