Objective To evaluate the association between school grade retention and physical fighting among adolescents.
Methods We evaluated 1687 adolescents, part of EPITeen population-based cohort of urban adolescents, at 13 and 17 years of age. At both study waves, socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics were obtained by self-completed questionnaires. School failure was considered as the school grades retention reported by adolescents. Physical fighting was only assessed at 17 years-old, and participants were asked “During the past 12 months, were you involved in a physical fight?” ORs and 95% CIs were estimated separately for girls and for boys.
Results 28.2% of the girls who had school grade retention after 13 years old and 33.5% who had school retention before 13 years old reported involvement in physical fighting. For boys, the respective frequencies were 49.4% and 61.7%. After adjustment for potential confounders in a stepwise model, the odds for involvement in fights were 2.45 (1.50–3.99) in girls and 1.38 (0.90–2.12) in boys when considering school grade retention that occurred only after 13 years old. Considering those with school grade retention before 13 years old, the association was even stronger: 2.75 (1.64–4.59) in girls and 2.52 (1.63–3.89) in boys.
Conclusion School failure increased the risk of physical fighting involvement among adolescents; school retention during compulsory school phase (until 13 years old) seems even more relevant.
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