WASHINGTON — About one in four female teens is involved in some sort of violent behavior at school or at work, according to a government report.
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A survey of more than 33,000 girls aged 12 to 17 found that 26.7 percent had been involved in a serious fight at school or work, a group-against-group fight or had attacked someone with the intent to harm the person in the previous year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported Thursday.
"In the public mind, acts of teenage violence are most commonly associated with boys," the report observed, but "it is clear that the problem is pervasive among girls as well."
Males do have a higher rate of violence, the report added, with 33.6 percent engaged in one of the types of acts in the year before the study.
Still, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde called the report alarming. "We need to do a better job reaching girls at risk and teaching them how to resolve problems without resorting to violence," she said.
The new survey was done between 2006 and 2008 and the results are similar to those in a SAMHSA study from 2002-2004.
The new analysis found that 18.6 percent of females aged 12 to 17 were involved in a serious fight at school or work, 14.1 took part in a group-against-group fight and 5.7 percent attacked others with the intent to do serious harm. Some engaged in more than one type of violent behavior.
Rates of violent behavior were higher for who engaged in binge drinking or used marijuana. Also, rates were higher among families with low income and for adolescents who were not attending school. For those in school, violence was more common among those with poorer grades.
Violence rates were highest for blacks, 38.0 percent, and lowest for Asians, 17.3 percent. Among other groups: mixed race, 30.2 percent; Hispanic, 29.0 percent; American Indian or Alaska native, 26.8 percent; and white, 23.7 percent.
The data was collected as part of SAMHSA'S National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
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