THURSDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Fighting among teenagers dropped significantly in 19 European and North American countries from 2002 to 2010, a new study finds.
"This is a very positive message that trends in violence seem to be going down in observations of young people in 30 countries we studied," said lead researcher William Pickett, a professor of epidemiology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
"It's not all gloom and doom," he said. "Some of these societal messages are making a difference."
For the United States, the findings were mostly positive, with fighting rates dropping from 11.8 percent in 2002 in to 10.1 percent in 2006. However, by 2010, U.S. rates had crept back up to 10.6 percent.
In Canada, fighting rates peaked at 14.7 percent in 2006 and dropped to 11.3 percent in 2010. However, that was higher than Canada's 2002 rate of 10.5 percent, the study authors found.
Although the reasons for the overall decline in teen violence are varied and complex, Pickett believes that school antiviolence programs have had a real effect.
"If I were to speculate, there has been an awful lot of attention in school systems and in public policy in Europe and North America that violence is not okay and that we need to address it as a priority in society," he said.
Economics is another factor that appears to play a part in the decreases -- and in some cases, increases -- in teen fighting, Pickett added.
"We did find that poverty was associated with higher levels of violence, as you would expect, and we did see increases in some countries that were especially in bad shape, such as Greece," he said.
The findings of the study were released online Dec. 3 in advance of publication in the January print issue of Pediatrics.
For the study, Pickett's team collected data on nearly 500,000 teens from schools in North
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