Monday, March 6, 2017

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

 2017 Apr;87(4):244-252. doi: 10.1111/josh.12491.

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

Author information

  • 1Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE), Temple University, 3223 North Broad Street, Suite 175, Philadelphia, PA 19140.
  • 2Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, University of Delaware, College of Health Sciences, 26 Carpenter Sports Building, Newark, DE 19122.
  • 3Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Temple University, College of Public Health, 1301 Cecil B Moore Avenue, 966 Ritter Annex, Philadelphia, PA 19122.
  • 4Department of Epidemiology, Rutgers University, School of Public Health, 683 Hoes Lane West, Piscataway, NJ 08854.
  • 5Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Michigan, School of Public Health, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.



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.

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