Correlates of weapon carrying among high school students in the United States

Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2008 Jul 7;7:8. doi: 10.1186/1744-859X-7-8.


Background: Deaths and injuries arising from interpersonal violence among adolescents are major public health concerns in the United States. The bearing of weapons among adolescents is a critical factor in many of these deaths and injuries.

Methods: A secondary analysis of the 2005 United States Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System Survey data was carried out to examine the variables associated with self-reported history of weapon carrying on school property among high school students. We used logistic regression analysis to assess the associations.

Results: Of the 13,707 respondents who participated in the survey, 10.2% of males and 2.6% of females reported carrying a weapon on school property. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, males were more likely to report having carried a weapon than females (odds ratio (OR) = 5.58; 95% confidence interval (CI) [4.23, 7.62]). Self-reported race/ethnicity was also associated with weapon carrying. Other variables positively associated with weapon carrying at school were substance use (OR = 1.77; 95% CI [1.16, 2.68]), depression (OR = 1.44; 95% CI [1.10, 1.89]), suicidal ideation (OR = 1.64; 95% CI [1.23, 2.19]), having had property stolen or deliberately damaged at school (OR = 1.55; 95% CI [1.21, 1.98]), having been raped (OR = 1.70; 95% CI [1.22, 2.37]), having been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property (OR = 2.19; 95% CI [1.63, 2.95]), and having engaged in physical fighting (OR = 2.02; 95% CI [1.56, 2.63]).

Conclusion: This research identifies factors that are associated with weapon bearing among adolescents in the United States. These factors may be important in the design of interventions aimed at improving school safety and adolescent health.