the area and brought people and resources theretofore missing. Some of that attention is described in the next sections.


Assessing Violence in New York City Schools

The shootings at Thomas Jefferson High School were of interest to public health professionals, who had begun to conceptualize violence as a health problem. At the time, homicide was the leading cause of death among New York City youth 15–19 years old, and the second leading cause of death in that age group nationally.48 Obviously, the increase in violence among youth undermined well-being and diminished life expectancy. In March 1992, the New York City Department of Health, under the leadership of Margaret Hamburg, asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to assess violence in New York City high schools. Richard Lowery, of the CDC, spent a month in New York City conducting the study. He developed and field-tested a survey instrument that was administered by school officials. He remembered that school officials were clearly shocked by the violence at Thomas Jefferson High School. His study did not focus on that school, however, because the school officials were interested in data representative of the whole school system, rather than an anecdotal report on one incident.49

The 1,399 students surveyed were from a representative sample of high schools stratified by presence or absence of a metal detector. Lowery’s questionnaire asked them about weapon carrying, beliefs about weapons, and threats in the 1991–1992 school year. Threats of physical harm were reported by 36.1 percent of the students, while 24.5 percent had been involved in a fight. More than one in five (21 percent) reported carrying a gun, knife, or club. Students who had been in fights and those who carried weapons were more likely than their more peaceful counterparts to believe that these weapons were (1) effective ways to manage difficult situations and (2) methods endorsed by their families. The editorial note that accompanied the report concluded, “This survey of NYC public high school students suggests that violent behaviors reflect the personal attitudes of students and the attitudes students attribute to their families.”50

The study also found that students were less likely to bring weapons to school if they attended a school with a metal detector. This was interpreted as providing support for the use of metal detectors on the basis that they might reduce, although they did not eliminate, weapon carrying in school. The report suggested a variety of other interventions that might be undertaken, including encouraging parents and community groups to teach youth nonviolent conflict resolution. In Lowery’s view, the physi

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