School Violence and Victimization Among Military-Connected Youth
Methods: Data for this study were obtained from the California Healthy Kids Survey (N=14,512). Current military affiliation (no one serves, parent serves, sibling serves), number of deployments (none, one, two or more), gender, race/ethnicity, and grade were included as covariates in the analysis. Items to assess victimization, perpetration, and weapon carrying were separated into three categories. Physical acts of violence (victim and/or perpetrator; e.g., fighting), non-physical acts (e.g., having rumors spread about them), and weapon carrying.
Results: The bivariate results indicate military-connected youth with a parent serving in the military had higher rates of physical violence (60.3%), non-physical victimization (68.1%), and weapon carrying (14.4%) compared to those with siblings serving (55.2%, 65.2%, and 11.4%, respectively) and non-military connected (50.2%, 61.6%, and 8.9%, respectively). Having a parent in the military increased the likelihood of weapon carrying by 33% (OR=1.33, 95% CI=1.05-1.67). Increasing number of family member deployments in the past 10 years was related to significant increases in experiencing physical violence (OR=1.35, CI=1.27-1.44), non-physical victimization (OR=1.32, CI=1.24-1.41), and weapon carrying (OR=1.26, CI=1.14-1.39).
Conclusion: The present study provides the first normative rates of school violence behaviors, weapon carrying, and victimization experienced by military-connected youth and their peers. The findings show that students from military families have significantly higher rates of victimization and perpetration in these public school settings. Additionally, the number of familial deployments appears to be force that contributes to increased school violence rates for military-connected students. A focus on school supports for youth who are dealing with the deployments of their family member is warranted.