This investigation tested whether weapon carrying is a response to a perceived threat posed by prior victimization and traumatic experiences in a state population of incarcerated youth. Structured interviews of 723 youth (ageM = 15.5,SD = 1.23; 87% male) residing in all Missouri Division of Youth Services facilities were conducted. Multivariate analyses revealed that although prior victimization and trauma did increase the likelihood of weapon carrying, the probability of weapon carrying was higher with respect to gang fighting and polysubstance use. And although prior victimization and trauma did possess incremental validity in predicting weapon carrying, having been in a gang fight and lifetime polysubstance use were more potent predictors of weapon carrying. Results provide clear social policy implications in that strategies capable of reducing gang involvement and substance abuse may in turn interrupt the cycle of violence via the mechanism of weapon carrying reduction in high-risk youth.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Developmental and Educational Psychology