We sought to examine the relationship between students' threats of interpersonal violence and self-reported violent behaviors.
Anonymous self-report questionnaires were administered to students in grades 3 through 12 in schools located in Colorado, Arizona, and Ohio. A survey of 9487 students from 33 public schools was performed. Ages ranged from 7 to 19 years. Across the 3 samples, the percentage of African Americans ranged from 6% to 35%, whites from 31% to 57%, and Hispanics from 5% to 51%.
Multivariate logistic regression analyses revealed that threatening others infrequently or frequently (compared with not threatening others) was significantly associated with violent behaviors. Students who infrequently threatened were about 3 to 4 times more likely to report exhibiting each of the violent behaviors than students who did not threaten others (odds ratio [OR] = 4.08-5.86). The relationship between frequently threatening others and violent behaviors was especially strong (OR = 7.19-24.30) and highest for the most severe forms of violence, knife attacks (OR = 15.39-24.30) and shootings (OR = 18.42).
Findings suggest that students' threats of harm toward others should be taken seriously, and that policies and procedures should be developed to ensure that children who threaten others receive proper assessment and management.