Physical and Emotional Health Problems Experienced by Youth Engaged in Physical Fighting and Weapon Carrying

Walsh, Sophie D.; Molcho, Michal; Craig, Wendy; Harel-Fisch, Yossi; Huynh, Quynh; Kukaswadia, Atif; Aasvee, Katrin; Várnai, Dora; Ottova, Veronika; Ravens-Sieberer, Ulrike; Pickett, William
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Then aims of the current study were 1) to provide cross-national estimates of the prevalence of physical fighting and weapon carrying among adolescents aged 11–15 years; (2) To examine the possible effects of physical fighting and weapon carrying on the occurrence of physical (medically treated injuries) and emotional health outcomes (multiple health complaints) among adolescents within the theoretical framework of Problem Behaviour Theory. 20,125 adolescents aged 11–15 in five countries (Belgium, Israel, USA, Canada, FYR Macedonia) were surveyed via the 2006 Health Behaviour in School Aged Children survey. Prevalence was calculated for physical fighting and weapon carrying along with physical and emotional measures that potentially result from violence. Regression analyses were used to quantify associations between violence/weapon carrying and the potential health consequences within each country. Large variations in fighting and weapon carrying were observed across countries. Boys reported more frequent episodes of fighting/weapon carrying and medically attended injuries in every country, while girls reported more emotional symptoms. Although there were some notable variations in findings between different participating countries, increased weapon carrying and physical fighting were both independently and consistently associated with more frequent reports of the potential health outcomes. Adolescents engaging in fighting and weapon carrying are also at risk for physical and emotional health outcomes. Involvement in fighting and weapon carrying can be seen as part of a constellation of risk behaviours with obvious health implications. Our findings also highlight the importance of the cultural context when examining the nature of violent behaviour for adolescents.


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