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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2009
NCES 2010-012
December 2009

Indicator 14: Students Carrying Weapons on School Property and Anywhere

In 2007, 18 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported they had carried a weapon anywhere in the past 30 days, while 6 percent reported they had carried a weapon on school property.

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 (referred to as "anywhere" in this indicator) in the past 30 days as well as if they had carried one of these weapons on school property.39 Weapon carrying anywhere is included as a point of comparison with weapon carrying on school property. In 2007, 18 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported they had carried a weapon anywhere, and 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 17 percent between 1993 and 2003. Subsequently, however, from 2003 to 2007 there was no measurable change in the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere. Between 1993 and 2007, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon on school property declined from 12 to 6 percent; generally, however, the decline was gradual as no differences were detected survey year to survey year.

In every survey year, generally, there were at least three times as many males as females who reported carrying a weapon—either anywhere or on school property (figure 14.1 and table 14.1). In 2007, for example, 9 percent of males carried a weapon on school property, compared to 3 percent of females, and 29 percent of males carried a weapon anywhere, compared to 7 percent of females.

In 2007, few differences were detected based on students’ race/ethnicity in the percentage of students who reported carrying weapons anywhere and on school property. A smaller percentage of Asian students (8 percent) than students from other racial/ethnic groups reported carrying a weapon anywhere, but no measurable differences were detected among Black students (17 percent), White students (18 percent), and Hispanic students (19 percent). A larger percentage of Hispanic students (7 percent) than White students (5 percent) and Asian students (4 percent) reported carrying a weapon during the previous 30 days on school property in 2007, but no other differences were detected by race/ethnicity.

In 2007, 20 percent of 9th-graders reported carrying a weapon anywhere compared to 15 percent of 12th-graders (figure 14.2 and table 14.1). However, no differences were detected in the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon on school property by grade level.

In 2007, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere (36 states and the District of Columbia) and on school property (39 states and the District of Columbia) varied among the states and the District of Columbia for which data were available. Among these states and the District of Columbia, the percentage of students reporting carrying a weapon anywhere ranged from 13 percent in Iowa to 27 percent in New Mexico, while the percentage of students reporting carrying a weapon on school property ranged from 4 percent in Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin to 11 percent in Wyoming (table 14.2).

This indicator repeats information from the 2008 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report. For more information: Tables 14.1 and 14.2 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008b).

39 "On school property" was not defined for survey respondents.

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