Researchers examined how high school students answered three survey
questions: how often they skipped school because they felt unsafe;
how often they got in physical fights at school; and how many times
they were threatened with a weapon at school.
“High school students who reported being bullied on school property
within the past 12 months were not at increased risk for carrying a
weapon to school if they answered ‘no’ to all three of these
questions,” said senior study author Dr. Andrew Adesman, a
researcher at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center
of New York in Lake Success.
“Importantly, students who said yes to all three of these physical
safety/injury questions were at the greatest risk for carrying a
weapon to school,” Adesman said by email.
For the study, researchers analyzed survey responses from a
nationally representative sample of more than 15,000 students in
grades 9 to 12.
Overall, about 20% of participants reported being victims of
bullying at least once in the past year, and about 4% said they had
brought a weapon to school in the past month, researchers report
online November 27 in Pediatrics.
Only 2.5% of the teens who were not bullied brought weapons to
school, the study found.
But about 46% of bullying victims who also reported skipping school,
getting in fights and getting threatened by somebody else with a
weapon said they had brought a weapon of their own to school.
Victims of bullying were more than four times as likely to skip
school as students who weren’t bullied. When bullying victims did
skip school, they were about three times more likely to bring
weapons to school than teens who weren’t bullied.
Bullying victims were more than twice as likely to get in fights at
school, and when they did get in fights they were about five times
more likely to carry weapons, the study also found.
Teens who were bullied were more than five times more likely to be
threatened with weapons, and when this happened they were almost six
times more likely to bring guns or knives to school.
The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether
or how being bullied might influence the odds that students would
bring weapons to school.
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Another limitation is that researchers relied on teens to truthfully
report on their experiences with bullying and weapons, and some
youth may have been reluctant to admit they carried weapons, the
It’s also possible that other factors beyond bullying might have
influenced teens’ decisions about carrying weapons to school, said
Melissa Holt, author of an accompanying commentary and a researcher
at the Boston University School of Education.
“Findings from this study do not directly address motivations for
weapon carrying,” Holt said by email.
“They do suggest that bullying victimization alone is not
necessarily associated with increased risk of weapon carrying, but
rather other individual (e.g. peer aggression experiences) and
contextual factors should be taken into account,” Holt added.
Still, those three questions about skipping school, fighting or
being threatened might be a useful screening tool for finding kids
at risk of carrying weapons, Adesman said.
“The three simple screening questions can help us better identify
which students are most likely to carry a weapon to school,” Adesman
said. “School personnel, parents and healthcare providers need to be
attentive to why some students may be reluctant to attend school and
we need to evaluate circumstances whenever a child gets into a fight
or is threatened or injured at school.”
SOURCES: http://bit.ly/2ABn7vE and http://bit.ly/2AaDY7Q
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