Introduction: Access to firearms and other weapons has been cited as an important factor contributing to the rise in violence-related injury among adolescents in the United States.
Methods: Data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey supplement to the 1992 National Health Interview Survey were analyzed to examine relationships among weapon-carrying, physical fighting, and fight-related injury among U.S. adolescents aged 12-21 years (N = 10,269). Adjusted odds ratios (OR) were used to describe the association of weapon-carrying during the past 30 days with physical fighting and fight-related injury during the past 12 months.
Results: Weapon-carrying (15%) and physical fighting (39%) were common among adolescents. One out of 30 (3.3%) adolescents reported receiving medical care for fight-related injuries. Controlling for demographic characteristics, youth who carried weapons were more likely than those who did not to have been in a physical fight (OR = 3.3). The association between weapon-carrying and physical fighting was stronger among females (OR = 5.0) than among males (OR = 2.9), but did not vary significantly by age, race/ethnicity, or place of residence (urban, suburban, rural). Controlling for frequency of physical fighting and demographics, adolescents who carried a handgun (OR = 2.6) or other weapon (OR = 1.6) were more likely than those who did not carry a weapon to have had medical care for fight-related injuries.
Conclusions: Among adolescents, weapon-carrying is associated with increased involvement in physical fighting and a greater likelihood of injury among those who do fight. Efforts to reduce fight-related injuries among youth should stress avoidance of weapon-carrying.