High school students of above average age for their class are more likely to carry guns in school, a recent study found. Dr. D. Neil Hayes of the Boston University School of Medicine and David Hemenway '74 of the Harvard School of Public Health drew this conclusion from a study of 59 Massachusetts high schools.
Studies in other states have produced similar results, Hemenway said yesterday, but this was the first study that specifically analyzed the age factor. The study was done through the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MYRBS) which asked students a series of 10 questions that measured their propensity for violent behavior.
The survey was given to a random sampling of 3153 students at the 59 schools, and measured several factors in relation to a student's tendency to carry a gun in school. These included age, race, gender, gang membership and propensity for being involved in fights with other students.
It was concluded from the results of the survey and subsequent study that students in ninth to 11th grades who were significantly older than the average students in their class were more likely to carry guns in school.
There were also many other factors that were found in common among gun-carrying students. These included an larger-than-average number of male students, smokers, students who used drugs or alcohol or who had been involved in criminal activity in the past.
Conclusive evidence has not been found on which grade level is most likely to see students carrying guns.
The study found that the increasing age of a student relative to the average of their class also had a strong correlation with increased behavioral problems and negative self-image.
According to Hayes and Hemenway, students may be above-average age for their class because they have failed previous grades.
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HSPH Prof Awarded for Violence Prevention WorkHarvard School of Public Health Professor David Hemenway ’66 was honored with the Striving for Justice Award by Community Works—a portfolio consisting of 34 social justice organizations—for his extensive work on implementing violence prevention programs.