The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

School Violence and Victimization Among Military-Connected Youth

Thursday, January 17, 2013: 5:00 PM
Marina 2 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
* noted as presenting author
Tamika D. Gilreath, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Julie Cederbaum, MSW, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Ron Avi Astor, PhD, Professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Rami Benbenishty, PhD, Professor, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel
Diana Pineda, MHA, MSW, LCSW, SD Field Project Manager and Adjunct Faculty, University of Southern California, San Diego, CA
Hazel Atuel, PhD, Research Assistant Professor & Program Manager for Building Capacity Consortium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Kris M. Tunac De Pedro, PhD Student, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Purpose: During the past decade approximately 2 million U.S. children have experienced the deployment of their parents and 900,000 have experienced multiple parental deployments. Recent studies on military-connected youth report overall elevated rates of mental health and behavioral problems including depression, suicide, and substance use. In these studies, deployments appear to be the primary predictor influencing mental health behavioral outcomes. However, the published epidemiological findings on children from military families may not represent a normative sample since they are often drawn from populations referred to treatment due to clinical, social, or behavioral problems that may have much higher rates of victimization or perpetration than normative populations. The goal of this study is to provide normative epidemiological data on military connected students’ perpetration and experiences of violence on school grounds.

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.