New Study Examines Likelihood of Students Reporting a Weapon on Campus

High academic achievement and school attachment increase a student’s willingness to report seeing a knife or gun.

A UT Dallas study shows certain factors affect a student’s willingness to report having seen a weapon at school.  The study was published online in “Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice” and it used data from anonymous online surveys administered to students in grades 9-12 at 10 schools in a northeastern U.S. state between 2008 and 2011.

According to the study, 76 percent of students who responded to the survey said they would report having seen a knife on campus. Eighty six percent said they would report a gun on campus. For both male and female students, high academic achievement was associated with an increased willingness to report a gun or a knife. A stronger school attachment resulted in an increased willingness to report a knife.

For both genders, having previously seen a weapon on campus decreased a student’s likelihood of reporting a knife. For male students, even prior knowledge of a weapon on campus reduced willingness to report a knife. Approximately 34 percent of survey respondents reported having seen or having prior knowledge of a weapon on campus in the last three months.

Another major factor in the intent to report a weapon on campus was knowledge of at least two school security measures such as ID badges, locker checks, visitor sign-in sheets, etc. Although most students said they would report seeing a weapon on campus, they were least likely to reveal that information to a principal or counselor. They were most likely to report it to their parents or to a family member. Only a small subgroup of students said they would not report a weapon on campus to anyone.

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