OBJECTIVES:

To examine, in a large, nationally representative sample of high school students, the association between bullying victimization and carrying weapons to school and to determine to what extent past experience of 1, 2, or 3 additional indicators of peer aggression increases the likelihood of weapon carrying by victims of bullying (VoBs).

METHODS:

National data from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey were analyzed for grades 9 to 12 (N = 15 624). VoB groups were determined by self-report of being bullied at school and additional adverse experiences: fighting at school, being threatened or injured at school, and skipping school out of fear for one’s safety. Weapon carrying was measured by a dichotomized (ie, ≥1 vs 0) report of carrying a gun, knife, or club on school property. VoB groups were compared with nonvictims with respect to weapon carrying by logistic regression adjusting for sex, grade, and race/ethnicity.

RESULTS:

When surveyed, 20.2% of students reported being a VoB in the past year, and 4.1% reported carrying a weapon to school in the past month. VoBs experiencing 1, 2, or 3 additional risk factors were successively more likely to carry weapons to school. The subset of VoBs who experienced all 3 additional adverse experiences were more likely to carry weapons to school compared with nonvictims (46.4% vs 2.5%, P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Pediatricians should recognize that VoBs, especially those who have experienced 1 or more indicators of peer aggression in conjunction, are at substantially increased risk of weapon carrying.

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