School Violence Lands More than 90,000 a Year in the ER, Study Finds

Linda Carroll, NBC News, January 13, 2014

Despite all the lip service given to battling bullying, many kids are still being seriously hurt while on school grounds, a new study shows. Each year more than 90,000 school children suffer “intentional” injuries severe enough to land them in the emergency room, according to the study published in Pediatrics.

Though there was a decrease in the number of intentional injuries at school over the last 10 years, it was minor, said study co-author Dr. Siraj Amanullah, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.

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Amanullah and his colleagues pored through data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System—All Injury Program collected from January of 2001 through December of 2008. The ER reports include a plethora of detail, including the type of injury, whether it occurred at school and whether it was the result of an accident or was intentional.

While cuts and bruises were the most common injuries at 40 percent, fractures accounted for 12 percent, brain injuries for 10 percent and sprains and strains another 7 percent. The vast majority of injuries—96 percent—were the result of an assault, with most perpetrators identified as friends or acquaintances. A full 10 percent of the assaults involved multiple perpetrators.

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During the study period, a total of 7,397,301 injuries occurred at school, of which 736,014 were intentional. The new study shows “that almost 10 percent of injuries are intentional, which means there’s a lot of violence going on in the schools that doesn’t include football, or hockey, or volleyball or tripping and falling and getting hurt,” said Patrick Tolan, a professor at the University of Virginia and director of Youth-Nex, the U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development.

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[Editor’s Note: Another report on this study noted that non-whites are more likely than whites to be assaulted in schools.]

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