Term of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Public Health

Committee Chair

Gulzar Shah

Committee Member 1

Linda Kimsey

Committee Member 2

Hani Samawi


In 2017, the United States reported the third leading cause of preventable deaths for youths aged 15-24 was unintentional injury or intentional acts of violence. In the past 20 years, mass shooting incidents on school campuses have increased significantly. The public health epidemic of school violence through witnessing or engaging in weapon carrying or violent risk-taking behaviors affects students' academic performance, rates of absenteeism, and mental health. Peak ages of 15-18 during adolescent development pose a significant risk of exposure to violent risk-taking and the likelihood of participating in deviant maladaptive behaviors. The Socio-ecological model will be used as a framework to understand the dynamic of how individual, interpersonal, societal, and organizational interactions may increase or decrease the likelihood of engaging in violent risk-taking behaviors. This study was a quantitative cross-sectional design, and the analysis included 14,765 participants from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS). The YRBS is a health behaviors survey nationally, given bi-annually by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Center Disease Control and Prevention.gov, 2020). Using binary logistic regression to analyze the association between race, age, gender, and ethnicity and, after controlling for potential covariance, examined the association between weapon carrying and violent risk-taking behaviors. The results indicated as age increased from 15 to 18, the student engagement in physical altercations decreases. Compared to Whites, African Americans/Black had significantly lower odds of engaging in fighting on or off-campus and carrying a weapon on school property. Male gender was associated with increased odds of carrying weapons on school property in the past 30 days and engaging in physical fighting on or off school property. These findings highlight the necessity to explore population-based strategies that will direct future risk reduction interventions in schools and community settings; concerning the individual's interpersonal response to stimuli and environmental challenges that increase odds of violent risk-taking in youth.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material