Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


Olympia - April 10, 2000 - Nearly one year since the tragedy at Columbine High School, Attorney General Christine Gregoire today released a new report that points to home life and harassment by kids as key causes of youth violence.

The report, entitled Bruised Inside, What Our Children Say about Youth Violence, What Causes It, and What We Should Do AboutIt, was prepared by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). Gregoire said the report looks at the problem of youth violence from the perspective of those who see it first-hand -- children, their teachers, school administrators and parents.

Findings and recommendations in the report came from listening conferences held by NAAG and individual attorneys general around the country.

"We were surprised by the common themes raised in school rooms across the nation," said Washington state Attorney General and NAAG President, Christine Gregoire.

The student "experts" told attorneys general that they need someone to teach them right from wrong, set boundaries in their lives, talk with them about their problems and give them a sense of belonging.

The report finds that many of the answers to youth violence lie ultimately with parents and youth. The attorneys general said their conversations with students also confirmed findings by various studies that many children who grow up with violence in the home use violence to solve their problems outside the home.

The number two cause of youth violence is how young people treat each other. Bullying, outcasting and "dissing" were reportedly pervasive throughout all grade levels, starting in grade school and often escalating to violence by the secondary school years. The attorneys general urge schools to prohibit bullying and train staff to quickly respond to it. They also urge youth to take personal responsibility and foster respect for their peers to break the cycle of bullying and insults before they escalate to violence.

"A critical element behind the national cases of school shootings is a relentless barrage of teasing and bullying that explodes into violence," said Gregoire. "Now is the time for schools to aggressively respond to bullying on school grounds and for students to break the code of silence when they see their classmates being harassed."

The report is being distributed to the President, Congress, and state officials to help them address youth violence and school safety issues in the wake of school tragedies such as last April’s shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Click here to download: Bruised Inside, What Our Children Say about Youth Violence, What Causes It, and What We Should Do About It  "bruised_inside041000.pdf", 601K