Violence among adolescents is a critical public health issue in
the U.S.: homicide was the second leading cause of death among persons
ages 15-24 in 2002.
Results from the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance reveal
that 17.1 percent of students had carried a weapon, such as a gun,
knife, or club, on at least one of the preceding 30 days; just over
6 percent had carried a gun. Males were significantly more likely
to carry a weapon (26.9 percent) than females (6.7 percent). The
percentage of students that carry weapons steadily decreased from
1991 to 1999, then began to level off at around 17 percent.
Some high school students also reported carrying weapons to school.
In 2003, 6.1 percent of students reported carrying a weapon on school
property in the past 30 days—nearly a 50 percent decrease
since 1993. Despite this decline, more than 9 percent of students
were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property at some
point during the 12 months before the survey. In addition, over
5 percent of students did not go to school in the preceding 30 days
because they felt unsafe at school or while traveling before or
after school. Younger students and non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic
students expressed the most concern for their safety.