20 Percent of High-School Students Carry Weapons

October 16, 1991 1 min read

Nearly 20 percent of all high school students carry a weapon and 5 percent carry a firearm at least once a month, a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control concludes.

According to the study--which did not specifically ask students if they had carried a weapon onto school grounds--male students are four times more likely to possess a weapon over the course of a month than are female students--31.5 percent as against 8.1 percent.

The C.D.C. report also indicates that Hispanic and black male adolescents are far more inclined to carry a weapon than are other students. About 40 percent of Hispanic and black male teenagers carry a weapon monthly, it found.

The study was drawn from data collected by the C.D.C.'S Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which questioned a nationally representative sample of 11,631 students in grades 9 through 12 about a range of health issues.

The report notes that more than 11,000 persons died in the United States between 1980 and 1989 as a result of homicides committed by teenagers.

Over all, knives and razors were the weapons of choice, the study found. Among black males who carried a weapon, however, more than half said they had possessed a handgun or other firearm.

Of the students who said they had carried a weapon during the past month, 25 percent said they had done so only once, nearly one-third said they had possessed a weapon two or three times, 7.4 percent said four or five times, and 35.5 percent said they had carried a weapon six or more times.

Students who reported carrying a weapon four or more times last month accounted for about 70 percent of the weapons-carrying incidents recorded in the survey, the C.D.C. said.

Since a relatively small number of adolescents are frequent weapons carriers, the C.D.C. said, most prevention programs should be targeted on this group. Programs should attempt to reduce the perceived or actual risk for victimization that convinces many teenagers to carry weapons, the report suggests.

The study contains recommendations for schools, including the use of metal detectors and curricula and counseling that teach students nonviolent conflict-resolution skills. Community-education programs are also needed, the study says. --E.F.

A version of this article appeared in the October 16, 1991 edition of Education Week as 20 Percent of High-School Students Carry Weapons