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Open Access Research

Trends of violence among 7th, 8th and 9th grade students in the state of Lara, Venezuela: The Global School Health Survey 2004 and 2008

Ricardo Granero1*, Esteban S Poni2, Bertha C Escobar-Poni3 and Judith Escobar1

Author Affiliations

1 Epidemiology Unit, ASCARDIO, Carrera 17, Barquisimeto, 3001, Venezuela

2 The Good Samaritan Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Section of International Research, Avenida Severiano Km 1.4, Aguadilla, 00603, Puerto Rico

3 Department of Pathology and Human Anatomy, Loma Linda University, 24760 Stewart Street, Loma Linda, 92350, USA

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Archives of Public Health 2011, 69:7  doi:10.1186/0778-7367-69-7

Published: 1 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Violence by young people is one of the most visible forms of violence and contributes greatly to the global burden of premature death, injury and disability.

Methods

The Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSHS), State of Lara, Venezuela (GSHS-Lara) is a school-based surveillance system. It comprises a repeated, cross-sectional, self-administered survey drawn from a representative sample of 7th to 9th grade students, performed in the school years 2003-2004 (GSHS-Lara 2004) and 2007-2008 (GSHS-Lara 2008). It explores, among other things, a general violence indicator such as school absenteeism due to feeling unsafe at school or on the way to or from school for any reason; and more specific indicators of violence such as robbery, bullying, physical fights and use of weapons, as well as exposure to lectures on how to prevent violence. Results are given in terms of prevalence percentage.

Results

Absenteeism doubled between the two study periods (10.8% to 20.8%). The number of students that were a victim of robbery remained high and without change both outside (14.2% and 14.8%) and inside school (21.7% and 22.0%). The number of victims of bullying was high and increasing (33.4% and 43.6%). Bullying associated with being physically attacked decreased (18.5% to 14.3%). Physical attacks without active participation and not associated with bullying were frequent (21.5%). Physical fighting with active participation prevalence remained high and without change (27.5% and 28.2%). Carrying a weapon almost doubled (4.3% to 7.1%). Less than 65% reported classes for violence prevention.

Conclusions

The GSHS-Lara shows that violence is an important public health problem that needs to be addressed by the community and its authorities.

Keywords:
Adolescents; Behavior; Bullying; Health Education; Physical Fight; Robbery; Unsafe School; Venezuela; Violence; Weapon