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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2007
NCES 2008-021
December 2007

Indicator 14: Students Carrying Weapons on School Property and Anywhere

There was no measurable change in the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon at school between 1999 and 2005: about 6 percent did so in both years.

The presence of weapons at school may interfere with teaching and learning by creating an intimidating and threatening atmosphere (Aspy et al. 2004). 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 on school property in the past 30 days. Weapon carrying anywhere is included as a point of comparison with weapon carrying on school property. In 2005, some 19 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 (figure 14.1 and table 14.1).

The percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere declined from 22 to 18 percent between 1993 and 1997. However, subsequently, there was no measurable change in the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere. Similar to the pattern for carrying a weapon anywhere, between 1993 and 1999, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon at school declined from 12 to 7 percent. However, there was no measurable change in the percentage of students who carried a weapon at school between 1999 and 2005.

When looking at the characteristics of students who reported carrying weapons, males were more than 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). In 2005, for example, some 10 percent of males carried a weapon on school property, compared with 3 percent of females, and 30 percent of males carried a weapon anywhere, compared with 7 percent of females.

In 2005, few differences were detected in the percentage of students who reported carrying weapons anywhere and on school property according to students' race/ethnicity (figure 14.2 and table 14.1). Asian students were less likely than students from all other racial/ ethnic groups, except Pacific Islanders,22 to report carrying a weapon anywhere, but no measurable differences were detected among Black, White, and Hispanic students. Asian students were also less likely than students from all other racial/ethnic groups, except for Blacks, to report carrying a weapon on school property, but no differences were detected among Black, White, and American Indian students. Hispanic students were more likely than Black students to report carrying a weapon during the previous 30 days on school property in 2005 (8 vs. 5 percent). Between 2003 and 2005, the percentage of Hispanic students who reported doing so increased from 6 to 8 percent.

In 2005, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon varied among states for which data were available. Among states, the percentages ranged from 11 to 28 percent for carrying a weapon anywhere, and from 4 to 11 percent for carrying a weapon on school property (table 14.2).


22 No observed measurable differences may be due to large standard errors.

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