The presence of weapons at school may interfere with teaching and learning by creating an intimidating and threatening atmosphere (Aspy et al. 2004). The percentage of students who report that they carry a gun or other weapon on school property is an indication of the extent of the problem. In the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, students were asked if they had carried a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club in the past 30 days (referred to as “anywhere” in this report) or had carried one of these weapons onto school property in the past 30 days. In 2003, 17 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported they had carried a weapon anywhere, and about 6 percent reported they had carried a weapon on school property (table 14.1).
Between 1993 and 2003, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere generally declined from 22 to 17 percent. Similarly, the percentage of students who carried a weapon at school also declined during this period—from 12 to 6 percent.
When looking at the characteristics of students who carried weapons, males were at least two times more likely than females to carry a weapon—either anywhere or on school property-in all survey years (figure 14.1 and table 14.1). For example, in 2003, some 9 percent of males carried a weapon on school property, compared with 3 percent of females, and 27 percent of males carried a weapon anywhere, compared with 7 percent of females. In 2003, there were few differences detected in the percentage of students carrying weapons anywhere and on school property according to students’ race/ethnicity (figure 14.2 and table 14.1). American Indian students were more likely than White, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic students to carry a weapon on school property and more likely than Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian students to carry a weapon anywhere. However, no differences were detected among Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander students in the likelihood of carrying a weapon anywhere or on school property.
In 2003, no relationship was detected by grade level or urbanicity for students who reported carrying a weapon at school or anywhere. Student reports of carrying a weapon varied among states for which data were available, ranging from 12 to 25 percent anywhere and from 3 to 10 percent on school property (table 14.2).
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