Kids who have been bullied are nearly 1/3 more likely to bring a weapon to school than their peers who haven't been bullied, according to research being presented today at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting.
That means that about 200,000 high school bully victims are bringing weapons to school, according to the research that analyzed data from a 2011 nationally representative survey of more than 15,000 U.S. high school students conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Tragedies like the Columbine High School massacre have alerted educators and the public to the grave potential for premeditated violence not just by bullies, but by their victims as well," said researcher Dr. Andrew Adesman.
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The researchers looked at four risk factors to determine if any combination made bringing weapons to school more likely: not going to school due to feeling unsafe in school or on the way to school; having property stolen or damaged; being threatened or injured with a weapon; and being in a physical fight.
They found that of the 20 percent of high school students who said they'd been bullied, 8.6 percent carried a weapon to school (compared to 4.6 percent of those who said they hadn't been bullied). And when all four risk factors were present, kids were 31 times more likely to bring a weapon to school.
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"More effective prevention efforts and intervention strategies need to be identified," said Dr. Lana Schapiro, one of the researchers. "The greatest focus should not just be on bullies, but on the victims of bullies most likely to carry a weapon and potentially use deadly force if threatened."