Predictors of In-School Weapon-Carrying

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Delinquent and violent behaviors have become a major concern of parents, teachers, and school administrations across the country as media images of school violence permeate perceptions of school safety. Although national surveys show a slight decline in school delinquency, schools continue to search for ways to improve safety. This investigation seeks to understand the predictors of weapon-use in schools. Literature related to school shootings, disorder, and weapon-carrying as well as various theories, including control, social disorganization, and subculture, guide hypotheses that explore the school characteristics related to in-school weapon-carrying as well as the interaction effects between school and student characteristics. Using a large, national sample, this unprecedented investigation explores whether school characteristics predict weapon-carrying net of individuals' propensity to carry weapons. The study also investigates whether school characteristics condition the relationships between student characteristics and weapon-carrying. Findings indicate that school characteristics, specifically those related to school location and violent environments, are important in explaining recent in-school weapon-carrying even when controlling for past weapon-carrying. Further, results suggest that school-level predictors are more important in explaining student weapon-carrying in urban schools than in non-urban schools. Implications and directions for future research will be discussed.