"Interventions, training and policies (are needed) to protect the
wellbeing not only of these students, but their fellow students,
their neighborhoods and their communities at large," said lead
author Maayan Simckes, of the University of Washington in Seattle.
Access to guns is a risk factor for injury and death - and that risk
may be exacerbated among youngsters already at high risk for these
outcomes, such as bullied teens, Simckes and her colleagues write in
the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Past studies found bullied teens carry guns more often than those
not bullied, but little is known about their access to those
weapons, the researchers write.
They used data collected from a nationally representative sample of
10,704 adolescents participating in the National Crime Victimization
Survey. In addition to asking respondents about past bullying, the
survey also asks if the teens have access to a loaded gun without
That could mean, for example, that the teen knew how to get a gun
from a safe and load it without asking an adult for help or a key.
Overall, 4.2 percent of teens said they had access to a loaded
weapon without adult permission.
Nearly 19 percent of students reported traditional bullying that may
be faced in school or on the playground, about 2 percent reported
cyber bullying over the internet and about 6 percent reported both
types of bullying.
Among the nearly 74 percent of students who weren't bullied, about 3
percent reported access to a loaded gun without adult permission.
That proportion rose to about 5 percent among teens who experienced
traditional bullying, and to 9 percent among those who were victims
of cyber bullying.
In the group of teens who reported both traditional and cyber
bullying, 15 percent reported access to a loaded gun without adult
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Simckes told Reuters Health that the new study can't explain why
bullied teens are more likely to have unrestricted access to loaded
guns. Future research needs to examine that question.
Additionally, people should understand the close relationship
between gun access and bullying, Simckes said.
"For example, in pediatric offices, when we have conversations about
gun access, we should also be discussing bullying," she said.
Dr. Andrew Adesman, of Northwell Health's Steven and Alexandra Cohen
Childrenís Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York, recently found
bullied teens are more likely to bring guns to school.
"Obviously, you canít bring a gun to school unless you have access,"
he told Reuters Health.
The risk that teens will bring a gun to school goes up even more
when they face threats of physical violence, said Adesman, who
wasn't involved with the new study.
He said gun owners need to take precautions.
"Parents who are responsible gun owners should make sure they have
their weapons secured," said Adesman.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2siIOwA Journal of Adolescent Health, online
June 24, 2017.
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