Purpose: This study explores the relationships between social, demographic, and behavioral characteristics and self-reported carrying of a weapon to school among middle school students. The results provide a statistical profile of youth most likely to bring weapons to school and help to identify characteristics that are only spuriously related to this behavior.
Methods: Study respondents were part of an ongoing randomized evaluation of a school-based drug use prevention program in Illinois. Self-administered questionnaires were completed by 1,503 seventh and eighth graders in the spring of 1992.
Results: Fifteen percent of respondents brought some type of weapon to school in the past month. In a multivariate logistic regression model, being male, not living with both parents, not feeling close to parents, drinking heavily, participating in fights, damaging school property, and perceiving that at least a few other students brought weapons to school, were significantly associated with weapon carrying. Victimization and fear for safety in school were not significantly associated with weapon carrying in the multivariate model.
Conclusions: Study results suggest that both the structure and the dynamics of the family play an important role in weapon carrying behavior. Weapon carrying also appears to cluster with other deviant behaviors. Furthermore, the findings suggest that weapons are not brought to school because of a heightened need for protection, but rather may be in response to normative influences in school.