The effect of childhood physical and sexual abuse on adolescent weapon carrying.J Adolesc Health. 2007 Jun; 40(6):551-8.JA
To examine the link and explore a potential association between physical and sexual abuse and weapon carrying in a sample of youth. Weapon carrying has been linked to the perpetration of serious violence in youth. Ample evidence associates child maltreatment with the perpetration of delinquent and violent behavior, but there is little research on the relationship between child maltreatment and weapon carrying.
We analyzed cross-sectional data collected from students in a large survey of high-risk youth (n = 3487). Propensity score stratification was used to approximate a randomized experimental design to examine the effect of physical and sexual abuse on youth-reported weapon and firearm carrying.
Approximately 25% of weapon carrying by girls was attributable to sexual abuse in early childhood. We found no relationship between sexual abuse and weapon carrying for boys. The association between physical abuse and weapon carrying was less robust and no gender difference was detected.
Results indicate that exposure to certain forms of early childhood maltreatment may increase the probability of weapon carrying in adolescence, particularly for females. Sexual abuse prevention and intervention programs should incorporate personal safety alternatives to weapon carrying, and clinicians should be aware that sexually abused girls are at greater risk for weapon carrying than other maltreated youth.