Weapon carrying among inner-city junior high school students: defensive behavior vs aggressive delinquency

Am J Public Health. 1993 Nov;83(11):1604-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.83.11.1604.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to estimate associations between beliefs and experiences hypothesized to be related to weapon carrying among youths.

Methods: Students in two inner-city junior high schools completed anonymous questionnaires. Logistic regression models were fit for having ever carried a weapon for protection or use in a fight and were stratified by sex and weapon type.

Results: Among males, 47% had carried knives and 25% had carried guns. Key risk factors for knife carrying were being threatened with a knife, getting into fights, and disbelief that having a weapon increases the carrier's risk of injury. Gun carrying was associated with having been arrested, knowing more victims of violence, starting fights, and being willing to justify shooting someone. Among females, 37% had carried a knife; knowing many victims of violence and being willing to justify shooting someone predicted knife carrying.

Conclusions: Knife carrying was associated with aggressiveness but did not appear to be related to serious delinquency. Gun carrying within this nonrandom sample appeared to be a component of highly aggressive delinquency rather than a purely defensive behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Aggression*
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • District of Columbia
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Urban Population
  • Violence