Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Elcy Chacko

Abstract

Research shows that risk factors may be useful clues for predicting students' potential for engaging in weapon-carrying behavior. Law makers on every levelâ??federal, state, and localâ??deem the presence of weapons on school grounds to be a serious problem and a violation of school policy. A large, urban school system has put forth sustained and costly efforts to prevent students from carrying weapons to school; yet students continue to carry weapons to school in this district. The purpose of this study was to use archival data collected as part of the school system's everyday practice to identify risk factors for students carrying weapons to school. Bandura's social learning theory guided this quantitative ex-post facto study. Six risk factors related to students' weapon-carrying behavior were examined: gender, prior fights, suspensions, race, academic achievement, and time of school day/year. Risk factors were compared for identified weapon carriers (n = 605) and non-weapon carriers (n = 605) using chi-square tests and a logistic regression analysis. Results showed that gender, prior fights, suspensions, and race were significant risk factors for weapon carrying. Students in this district who received 5-14 suspensions had a 1 in 4 chance of being a weapon carrier. Males as well as Black students and White students were 3 times more likely to carry a weapon to school. A pattern of fighting also correlated with an increased incidence of carrying a weapon to school. These data may help this school district and other school districts like it to provide better prevention strategies and enhance policy decisions by identifying students who are at high risk of carrying a weapon on school grounds.

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