Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2012

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education

First Advisor

Thomas E. Payne

Advisor Department

Criminal Justice


Youth violence plagues school communities and has traumatic effects on students, families, and communities (Affonso, Mayberry, Shibuya, Archambeau, Correa, Deliramich, & Frueh, 2010). Even though the rate of crime has declined, children have continued to increase the rates of violent acts (Funk, Elliot, Bechtoldt, Pasold, & Tsavoussis, 2003). Today, violent behaviors are being exhibited at an earlier age than ever before. Tragedies stemmed from youth violence occur almost daily in the United States. Between 1986 and 1991, slayings committed by teenagers, who had shown bullying tendencies as children, rose 124 percent. In 1992, 3,400 people were killed nationwide by teen violence. In Richmond, California, a six-year-old boy brutally beat and killed a one-month-old infant in 1996. In 1998, young children opened fire on their classmates causing many to be killed or injured. The National Education Association reported that one in six youth under the age of eighteen are arrested for murder, rape, robbery, or assault (Smith, Twemlow, & Hoover, 1999). A national survey conducted in the U.S. in 2003 showed that more than 1.56 million incidents of violent victimization were committed by young persons between the ages of 12 and 20. In other words, there is a rate of approximately 4.2 incidents of violent crime committed per every 100 juveniles aged 12 to 20. The highest rates of violent acts in 2003 were committed by juveniles. Juveniles, aged 10 to 17, comprised less than 12% of the total USA population, yet these youths were involved as offenders in close to 25% of serious violent victimizations throughout the past twenty-five years (Services, 2007).

Because it is important for parents, school administrators, and community administrators, as well as youth, to understand the nature of youth violence within their school district, the specific question I am proposing to answer with this project is "How have the perceptions of youth violence in Harrison County, Mississippi changed since 1998?”