Methods: Analysis was conducted on the 2016 National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Public Use File. The sample in this analysis included 13,381 school-aged youth aged 12 to 17 years. Weighted binary logistic regression analysis was conducted to examine the likelihood of handgun carrying among school-aged children predicted by engagement in health-risk behaviors (i.e., selling drugs, alcohol drink, stealing things), mental health problems, and socio-demographic variables included gender, ethnic-minority background, and residence areas.
Results: Analysis of the sample indicated that 1.1% of respondents carried a handgun to school at least once during the past 12 months. White students were 1.60 times (OR=1.60, p<.01) higher than African American and Hispanic school-aged youth in handgun carrying behaviors. Living in a non-metro area was 1.46 (OR=1.46, p<.01) higher than living in large metro and small metro areas for handgun carrying behaviors. Adolescents who sold illicit drugs were 1.76 times higher (OR=1.76, p<.01) for handgun carrying. Also, adolescents who stole things were 1.38 times higher (OR=1.38, p<.01) for handgun carrying behaviors. Having attacked someone with the intent to seriously hurt them was associated with more than two times the odds (OR=2.23, p<.01) for handgun carrying to school among school-aged youths.
Conclusion and Implication: Findings from this analysis indicated a relationship between race, living in a non-metro area, having the history of having attacked someone with the intent to cause injury, and illicit drug dealing with handgun carrying behaviors. The most prominent finding of the present study was that if student intended to hurt someone seriously, handgun showed a higher likelihood carrying handguns to school among school-aged youth. Other important findings of the current study were that youths who were selling illicit drugs and exhibited the stealing behaviors had a higher likelihood to carry a handgun to school. White students and living in non-metro districts were positively associated with handgun carrying behaviors. White students were more likely to access to handguns than African American and Hispanic school-aged youths. Youths who were living in non-metro areas showed a higher likelihood to carry a handgun to school than those who were living in metro areas.
Current results underlined the importance of youths’ health-risk behaviors and social bonds with their schools and community. The identification of health-risk behaviors among school-aged youths might help school social workers to screen youths who are at great risk of handgun carrying to school and might consider to developing school-based violence prevention programs.