Youths Carrying a Weapon or Using a Weapon in a Fight: What Makes the Difference?

Health Educ Res. 2009 Apr;24(2):270-9. doi: 10.1093/her/cyn017. Epub 2008 May 9.


The objective of this study was to characterize weapon-carrying adolescents and to assess whether weapon carriers differ from weapon users. Data were drawn from a cross-sectional school-based survey of 7548 adolescents aged 16-20 years in Switzerland. Youths carrying a weapon were compared with those who do not. Subsequently, weapon carriers were divided into those who had used it in a fight and those who had not. Individual, family, school and social factors were analyzed using bivariate and stepwise multivariate analysis. For both genders, delinquent behavior and being victim of physical violence were associated with weapon carrying. For males, quarreling while intoxicated, being an apprentice, being sensation seekers, having a tattoo, having a poor relationship with parents and practicing unsafe sex were also related to weapon carrying. Compared with weapon carriers, female weapon users were more likely to be regular smokers. Male weapon users were foreign born, urban and apprentices; had poor school connectedness; practiced unsafe sex and quarreled while intoxicated. Carrying a weapon is a relatively frequent behavior among youths in Switzerland and a sizeable proportion of weapon carriers have used it in a fight. Weapon carrying should be part of the clinical assessment and preventive counseling of adolescents. Preventive programs specific for at-risk youth groups need to be developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence*
  • Switzerland
  • Violence*
  • Weapons*
  • Young Adult