Background: Recent incidents of school violence have heightened the need to identify societal, interpersonal, and adolescent characteristics that contribute to weapon carrying.
Objectives: To assess the prevalence of weapon carrying at school and to determine associated risk factors for adolescent males and females.
Design: A cross-sectional study using the 1994-1995 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data.
Participants: A nationally representative sample of 6504 adolescents and their parents.
Main outcome measure: Whether adolescents have ever carried a weapon at school.
Statistics: chi(2) Analyses and hierarchical regressions were done using SPSS (SPSS Inc, Chicago, Ill) and SUDAAN (Research Triangle Park, NC) software. Regression models included demographic, intrinsic, and extrinsic factors.
Results: Of the overall sample, 9.3% (n = 595) reported having carried a weapon at school. Of these, 77% were male (male vs female adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 3.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.3-4.1). Substance use, school problems, perpetration of violence, and witnessing violence were significantly associated with weapon carrying for both males and females. However, for males, extrinsic factors were more important in mediating the effects of substance use and perpetration of physical violence on school weapon carrying, while intrinsic factors mediate these variables for females.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that interventions for violence prevention for males and females need to be targeted toward different areas.