Getting kids into the habit of participating in positive activities such as school sports or music could help reduce school violence, according to researchers at Utah State University’s Center for the School of the Future.

The researchers found that schools participating in the "Prevention Plus" violence-prevention model experienced less fighting and fewer court referrals and gang-related activities.

The program cultivates the development of children’s protective assets, such as stronger relationships with family members and mentors and the pursuit of "positive addictions" such as athletics, fitness, or a musical instrument. Other protective assets include well-developed social and academic skills and demonstrations of support from family and friends.

School violence is a major problem in U.S. schools, says program director Rich West, citing a dramatic rise of violence and intimidation by female students as particularly troubling. Fear of victimization keeps as many as 10% of students out of school at least one day a month.

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