Report on weapons

Cash & Carry?
Young people, their friends and offensive weapons. 1996, 82pp. £5 (incl p&p)

This is one of our series of monographs about young people's lifestyles, compiled from data collected using the Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire.

It is an introduction to the findings being made by the Unit with respect to young people carrying weapons. Data collection began in May 1995, before the level of potential violence in and around schools was highlighted by the fatal stabbing of headteacher Philip Lawrence and the Dunblane massacre.

The report, based on questionnaire responses from young people aged between 11 and 16, is divided into two parts, entitled Young people, fear, and self-protection and Making connections.

In the first part it is shown that...

A quarter of all the young people rated safety in their home neighbourhood POOR OR VERY POOR after dark.

More than a quarter of the 12-13 year olds sometimes, often, or very often FELT AFRAID OF GOING TO SCHOOL because of bullying.

When they went out, a half of the 14-15 year olds FELT AFRAID OF BEING PHYSICALLY ATTACKED sometimes, often, or very often.

Almost a third of the 14-15 year old boys sometimes CARRIED DEFENSIVE OR POTENTIALLY OFFENSIVE ITEMS for personal protection.

The second part examines the 14-15 year old group in more detail and uncovers links between carrying personal protection of the potentially offensive variety (gun, knife, etc.) and other lifestyle characteristics.

For example, it is found that people likely to carry protection are also...

* More likely to have a girlfriend or boyfriend
* More likely to smoke
* More likely to drink alcohol
* Less likely to do homework after school
* More likely to worry about various problems
* Likely to have a higher `income'
* More likely to play on arcade machines
* More likely to have experimented with illegal drugs

This research, which is continuing, is believed to be the first large-scale investigation in the UK into an uncomfortable weapon-carrying dimension within the younger strata of our society. The hope is that these data will support positive action towards creating safer environments everywhere.