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Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2011
NCES 2012-002
February 2012

Indicator 14: Students Carrying Weapons on School Property and Anywhere

Between 1993 and 2009, the percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported carrying a weapon at least one day anywhere during the past 30 days declined from 22 to 17 percent, and the percentage carrying a weapon on school property declined from 12 to 6 percent.

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 if they had carried one of these weapons on school property during the same time period51. Weapon carrying anywhere is included as a point of comparison with weapon carrying on school property. In 2009, 17 percent of students in grades 9–12 reported that they had carried a weapon anywhere on at least one day during the past 30 days: 8 percent carried a weapon anywhere on six or more days of the period, 6 percent carried a weapon on two to five days of the period, and 4 percent carried a weapon on one day of the period (tables 14.1 and 14.2). As for the percentages of students who reported carrying a weapon on school property during the past 30 days, 6 percent of students reported that they had carried a weapon on at least one day of the period. This percentage was composed of 2 percent of students reporting carrying a weapon on school property on six or more days, 1 percent reporting carrying a weapon on two to five days, and 2 percent reporting carrying a weapon on one day.

The percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere in the past 30 days declined from 22 percent in 1993 to 17 percent in 2009. In addition, from 1993 to 2009 the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon on school property declined from 12 to 6 percent. However, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon either anywhere or on school property was statistically unchanged from 2007 to 2009.

In every survey year, the percentage of males who reported they had carried a weapon, either anywhere or on school property was higher than the percentage of females doing so (figure 14.1 and table 14.1). In 2009, for example, 27 percent of males carried a weapon anywhere, compared to 7 percent of females, and 8 percent of males carried a weapon on school property, compared to 3 percent of females.

The percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere or on school property varied according to students' race/ethnicity (figure 14.2 and table 14.1). In 2009, a smaller percentage of Asian students (8 percent) than of students from any other racial/ethnic group (the percentages for the other groups ranged from 14 to 21 percent) reported carrying a weapon anywhere during the previous 30 days. In addition, the percentage of White students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere was higher than that of Black students (19 vs. 14 percent). A smaller percentage of Asian students (4 percent) reported carrying a weapon on school property than of Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian students (10 percent), White students (6 percent), or Hispanic students (6 percent).

In 2009, the percentages of 9th- through 12th-grade students reporting carrying a weapon anywhere during the past 30 days ranged from 16 to 18 percent, whereas the percentages of 9th- through 12th-graders reporting carrying a weapon on school property during that time period ranged from 5 to 6 percent. However, there were no significant differences in the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere or on school property by grade level.

State level data were available in 37 states for students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere and in 41 states for students who reported carrying a weapon on school property. In 2009, the percentage of students who reported carrying a weapon anywhere and on school property (varied among the states for which data were available (table 14.3). Among these states, the percentage of students reporting carrying a weapon anywhere ranged from 10 percent in New Jersey and Rhode Island to 27 percent in New Mexico, while the percentage of students reporting carrying a weapon on school property ranged from 3 percent in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to 12 percent in Wyoming.

This indicator repeats information from the 2010 Indicators of School Crime and Safety report. For more information: Tables 14.1, 14.2, and 14.3 and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010), (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss5905.pdf).


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


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